Slave to Outlook

I hope I never get blasé about presenting papers; the opportunity for an international perspective on education is a fantastic privilege especially if it involves a country I haven’t travelled to before. But however well prepared to try to be, returning home is fraught. Tired, disorientated, laden with practicalities like fridge filling, post opening, clothes washing and generally catching up and then – of course – the email. I have an Xda (which doubles up as my own personal technological challenge but that’s a different story). It enables me to keep in touch but its capacity for reading and replying to lengthy emails is limited; all those emails dashed off a quick ‘thanks and I’ll get back to you next week’ – not to mention those not replied to then but need an answer now – are all roosting in the inbox, waiting for action.

Do we make ourselves slaves to Outlook? It can certainly be quicker, easier and sometimes more effective than other forms of communication; it gives you an audit trail, you can sort it and filter it and linked to your calendar it’s an excellent organising tool. But no matter how hard you try to stay organised while you’re away, any first day back after an absence has to include it and that’s where the ‘fraught-ness’ comes in. I’m wondering if it’s just me, or if others have noticed it too, that there seems to be more now than when I started. Is it possible that the more you do then the more you create? That this breaks all the rules which say tackling a problem diminishes it when as far as your email is concerned you would actually be better leaving it alone!

One Reply to “Slave to Outlook”

  1. Outlook is a wonderful servant and a terrible master! The paradox you describe is comparable to the one facing transport planners: building bigger and better roads simply encourages more people to travel and thereby aggravates congestion rather than alleviating it. But that doesn’t mean that we should deliberately revert to dirt tracks and horse-drawn carts.

    There are technical and behavioural ways to lessen the tyranny of the overflowing inbox, but they have to be learnt. An ‘out-of-office’ that works with external addresses would be a start…

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