What your inbox says about you

Will Brown, chief technology officer at Telecom One, talks to Monica Seeley about how he runs his e-mail without letting it run...

Will Brown, chief technology officer at Telecom One, talks to Monica Seeley about how he runs his e-mail without letting it run his life.

How many e-mails do you handle each day?

"On average, 75 per day. Normally I'd send about 15. Yesterday I was engrossed in a project and sent none."

What percentage are really useful?

"About 98%, of which about 80% were addressed to me: half from external sources and half are internal. About 5% are newsletters and 10% are 'alarms' - for example if a server is down. Most of my mail is about to tasks related to projects."

How do you deal with your inbox?

"I spend about three to four hours commuting each day. I download just before leaving and if I am not writing Java code then I am working on my inbox on the train. I have a mobile connection and a Bluetooth GPRS link if I am really desperate, otherwise I upload when I am in the office or at home.

"In the office I dip in and out, which is frighteningly distracting. I see an e-mail and wonder what is it about. I try to reply straight away, otherwise it's dealt with on the train. I try to file all my e-mails as I deal with them. A measure of how organised I am at any time is the number in the inbox. I automatically generate tasks on my task list from my e-mails."

So how could Brown use e-mail more effectively? He has reached the "gold" level of e-mail fitness: the software works to his advantage and he likes to get things done.

E-mail suits him but by his own admission he is addicted to it. Brown needs to try to reduce his dependency on e-mail and cultivate his use of other, richer forms of communications such as face-to-face meetings, otherwise he might find he is missing that vital casual remark, which mean business. When he is busy, he should resist the urge to peek at the new mail.

Based on Monica Seeley's book to be published later this year

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