By Dave Baggett, CEO of Inky

Email has become a Weapon of Mass Distraction that ravages revenue, brain activity and productivity. If your run a small business, email is probably doing far much damage than you realize. Consider that:

  • ‘Multitasking’ is bunk. According Stanford psychology professor Clifford Nass, “The research is almost unanimous, which is very rare in social science, and it says that people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits…[they] can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted.” Constant switching between email, social media and other tasks is making you dumb.
  • IT research and consulting firm Basex found that information overload costs the U.S. economy $900 billion per year when you factor in the unnecessary disruptions and resultant recovery time
  • According to McKinsey & Company, the average workers spend 28 percent of their week reading and answering emails.

Here’s the issue: your inbox has turned into a bombing range for co-workers and marketers. It’s easier to mass email than not in a business setting, and it’s profitable to blitz people with ‘bacn’ (not spam), also known as grey mail. When people had to type out every email, this wasn’t feasible. Now, email bombardment is automated. Unless you have an unusual appetite for LinkedIn notifications, Costco coupons and webinar invitations, this bacon is wasting your time.

We’ve built our economy around a ravenous technology, and there’s no simple solution. We need smarter email technology, but we also need to take some practical steps. So, I urge you to try my “email boot camp”:

1.      Interval Training.  Limit how often you’re allowed to check and answer email. Begin with short intervals – no more than 15 to 20 minutes – then step it up as your endurance improves. If you need to be forcibly restrained from email checking, install Freedom and Anti-Social on your computer.

2.      Tw-email. Limit all emails to 140 characters, just like Twitter. Instead of writing a pointless subject like “Hey,” put your entire message into the subject line.

3.      Collaboration Software. Stop emailing files. Use Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or something equivalent. Don’t set your collaboration apps to spam everyone with email, otherwise it defeats the whole purpose.

Although email disarmament is ages away, advances in email client technology will help tame the beast. In the meantime, don’t let it massacre revenue, brain health and productivity. It’s time we stop letting technological distractions run our lives.

David Baggett is currently heading Arcode Corporation, which he founded in 2008. Arcode’s first product inky® is revolutionizing the email user experience by making email smarter, simpler, and safer.