A study came out last week deriding email as a time-waster. It purported to show that interruptions from email cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Two points why the study should be ignored:
1. Hundreds of millions is a tiny percentage of the global economy. I wager that the cost of interruptions from fellow employees is worse.
2. Email is efficient, compared to what it replaced: the telephone conversation. Twenty-five years ago, I worked as an engineer, and kept track of all phone calls I made -- for record keeping and legal purposes. After some months, I discovered that each phone call took 20 minutes: the time to place the call and reach the target, make the call, and afterwards record the call in the log book.
Contrast that efficiency (3 phone calls an hour) with emails: dozens an hour. Email is inherently more efficient over telephone calls for two reasons:
* Emails are self-documenting.
* Emails are asynchronous: unlike receiving a phone call (synchronous communication), I can respond to an email when it fits my schedule.