The email-less society

Here is a stupid question : Don’t you hate the amount of emails you receive everyday?
Sure you do hate them, except when you’re a marketeer then you LOVE emails, at least sending them.
Anyway, whether you love or hate them, I don’t care, because I’m going to write this blog post about how I loved them in the early beginnings to have an allergy to them.

How it used to be

Let’s go back to the late 90’s, early 00’s (some of you readers who weren’t even born yet or were not old enough to understand, I’ll give you a glimpse of what it was back then).
The internet is still in its early ages: no fancy websites, no broadband, no youtube, heck no social media! But there was one thing already present: email…

I remember when I was in my first (and only) year of Applied ICT at the Rega Hogeschool in Leuven. One of my fellow students was checking his emails every morning and I was flabbergasted by his routine. I asked him why he did this and he replied, surprised: “Don’t you check your physical mailbox every morning?”. Now I was double-flabbergasted, because he was right. I did check my mailbox every morning when the postman went by. I never did the connection… Now it’s the first thing I do when I wake up (which isn’t a healthy habit, I know).

It was fun actually, we weren’t spammed with tens or hundreds of emails every day which is today’s case. Every time I heard the mail notification sound I was excited!
“Ooh, a new email, who could it be?” was a recurring question for several years. Until it wasn’t anymore.

How is it now?

Pulling you back to “Now” and excitement has been replaced by exhaustion, it even has a name: email fatigue.

Email fatigue is a state when subscribers feel overwhelmed with your emails, and due to this, they stop engaging with your emails.

This is certainly the case for personal emails and you have a certain control over this emails, as you can unsubscribe from them.
But what about work emails? There is unfortunately not unsubscribe button from annoying colleagues (that would be an awesome feature to be honest).
Tell me honestly who silenced their email-notifications because you received just too many.
So what can be done about these emails?

Fast Company has an overview of 4 problems and fixes of work emails, I suggest you go have a look and send it to your manager or director or whatever who’s above you in order to have a certain way of emailing inside your team or company.
I also heard about Email-less Fridays in some companies, which is nice for sure, but doesn’t help overall. It’s already a nice start, don’t get me wrong, but I would go even further.
Why not an email-less week!
Or month!
Or year!

Sorry… got carried away. But you get the picture, literally.
Ok, let’s cool down and let me explain.
Emails should be informative, right to the point, and appropriate for all destined, amirite?

Go have a look in your inbox and tell me how many of your emails are really for you, where you are the one who really needs that information. There might be exceptions amongst you, but I guess most of you have 80-90% of emails that are not that important, for you.
Isn’t that sad, madding and frustrating? (no need to answer, it’s a rhetorical question)

So what’s my solution?

Of course banning emails is completely unrealistic and we still need emails, but we can and should reduce the amount to a strict minimum, and for me there only two types of emails we should keep, based on their intent: information and confirmation.

An information-based email is an email meant to inform (duh) the destined persons of an important matter or event that has an effect on their work. If it’s not important, there shouldn’t be an email, period.

The other one is a confirmation-based email, where a confirmation (again duh) is needed from the recipient like a meeting confirmation, a confirmation from a client or business-partner, etc. This types of emails can be used for legal or contractual issues, so they are still needed (for now).

But even these two types of emails can be removed as there are other ways to inform or confirm.

Can we go full email-less?

Of course we can, it’s already doable right now with all the tools available.

For direct communication: Teams, Slack
For information: Sharepoint
For confirmation: Docusign, Teams
All the rest can be done by voice calls, video calls or if you are in the same building, get off your damn chair and go have a chat with your co-worker, even if he’s annoying.


I will get some hate from my marketing friends, because indeed emails are still the strongest form of direct communication for promotions to (potential) customers. But I’m not talking about this here. I’m talking about pure internal (and some external) business communications.
If you still don’t trust me, create a rule in Outlook where all emails where you aren’t specifically in the “to” field are directly moved to a folder called “Not for me” and you will see how less email notifications you will receive. If you don’t know how to do that, I got you covered.
With that being said, I have emails to delete.

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