Focus Friday: Email – It’s like Space Invaders, only you never win

by, Robert Corbishley, Xerox Public Relations

Email, everyone sends it, everyone receives it. We talk less and type more. Boy, we love to type. Courtesy of Microsoft Office we have become specialised in using one or more of its software packages; finance people are Excel people, marketing Powerpoint, and legal teams, like PR people such as me, are masters of Word. HR departments (mostly Word people) could, I am almost convinced, dispense with their multitude of job descriptions and simply post vacancies for a “PowerPoint person” or a “Word person” etc. – Microsoft Office has become, like the sculpture’s hammer and chisel, the means by which we craft our daily work.

But, it is Outlook, and specifically email, that rules my, and everyone else’s working day. I come in at 9am and look at how many lines of black bold text appear in my Outlook window, indicating how many unread emails I have. Like my colleague Falynne Smith, I despair at the amount of spam I receive, particularly, and most ironically, from people trying to sell me (a PR manager) the best lists for marketing purposes.

I get my morning cappuccino and yoghurt (it used to be a cake) and then rampage through these blackened lines, just like in the old Space Invaders computer game, zapping as many incoming emails as I can – delete, delete, forward, delete, delete, reply, reply, ignore, delete, forward, reply…

If I have to red-flag an email it means I can’t deal with it immediately, and, yes, somewhere deep inside me, I know that I have somehow failed. I battle to reduce my red flags to a maximum of 10 by the end of each day, I feel totally out of control and a shame-faced failure if I have more than 25. Please don’t tell anyone, I know, 25, it’s really bad.

So, I wonder, is all this email necessary? Does it help or hinder? Is my daily game of email Space Invaders really what I should be focused on?  After all, it’s a never-ending game that you can never win.

As you prepare for your weekend, sit back, consider your daily routine, and ask yourself, “what should I really be focused on?”

When he isn’t battling email Space Invaders, Robert spends his time as the European PR Manager for Xerox’s Technology Business.

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