Email: No. 2 but No. 1 in Overspending
Email is a great way to quickly take notes, but don’t you prefer paper? Maybe you just need a written aide to everyday tasks – or worse, cannot stand the prospect of using your smartphone, tablet or computer for anything else.
This is a problem that is not new – according to author and Stanford lecturer Art Markman, in fact, in the 1990s email transcators were in high demand.
Now, Markman thinks electronic to-do lists are a better – and better accepted – method for taking notes, so he believes digital activity is outstripping handwritten activity. He is currently studying the data behind “Offline” by @Kindle’s distribution. His research suggests that when it comes to composing to-do lists, email is not an effective method.
His main finding was this: “You’re going to get 30% more work done with an individual person or a group of individuals. But for a group of people, I actually found that you’d be better off with paper notes.”
Markman, a professor of psychology and a behavioral scientist at the university’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, was a bit annoyed by the rationale behind email – they are used to input prewritten email responses when people are working together.
He acknowledged that there are several reasons why we send and receive emails: your schedule, your email system, your preference, and whatever your weird psyche thinks of doing. For some, an email newsletter is a great tool and another email is a quick way to take notes. However, for Markman and his research, the answers all lie in one room.
He finds emails are a rather lazy approach to keeping track of everything you want to accomplish because of the back and forth and “lack of structure or frequentity.” Markman also thinks social media adds to this issue, because when someone asks you for an email comment, that kind of idea gets lost when you talk about it on Facebook or your Twitter account.
Ultimately, he thinks paper has evolved to be a better tool, though he does agree that it can sometimes be a double-edged sword. When you have a score on a task, paper helps push you forward, but you can also worry about the notes you’ve not completed being left out of your electronic to-do list.
Overall, he says, email has developed a reputation for being a lazy method of working that, while nice, never really helps us do our best. Markman shares his thoughts about email with Mind Candy/Adult Swim along with other journalists, memoirists and academic researchers.