From an email from David Allan, GTD, below, first a comment from me.
David’s comments below make total sense to me. I see all of this as part of psychological integrity. Relationships are important, and an email connection is not a substitute for relating, it is integral to it. Good communication means good communication online. That means embracing online literacy in the way one might embrace emotional literacy. How far does that go before it is no longer in your domain? You don’t need to be a linguist or a Shakespeare to be a good communicator, but it helps to know the difference between a thought and a feeling, to know the difference between a judgment and an observation… In the online world it means knowing when to reply to all, and keeping to one subject matter, described clearly in the Subject line. And how to manage the email inbox.
Knowledge workers are paid to bring their intelligence to bear on input, and improve things by doing that. The decision about what to do with an email and its contents, what it means in terms of the work and standards at hand, is knowledge work.
We’ve noticed that it takes an average of about 30 seconds to process each email—decide what it is, delete it, file it, respond to it quickly, or defer it to an “action” file or list. For someone with 100 emails a day (more and more common) that’s 50 minutes just to get through a day’s email load. That doesn’t count memos, phone calls, voice mails, conversations, and meetings that must also be processed.
A typical professional these days must factor in at least an hour a day and an additional hour at the end of the week (for a Weekly Review). And not as “Hey, it would be nice if I could…”—but as an absolute requirement to manage their life and work with integrity.