Here’s a Radical Way to End Vacation Email Overload

This is no longer a problem for employees at the German company Daimler. The car and truck maker has implemented a new program that allows employees to set their email software to automatically delete incoming emails while they are on vacation. When an email is sent, the program, which is called “Mail on Holiday,” issues a reply to the sender that the person is out of the office and that the email will be deleted, while also offering the contact information of another employee for pressing matters.

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InboxPro pivoted

We want to give people the tools they need to reduce the time spent sending and receiving email messages, so they can use that time to be more productive. Or work less. You choose. We tried to do this by delegating the responsibility of categorizing incoming mail to the sender, allowing the recipient to answer those messages more efficiently.

That didn’t work.

So we sat down and started thinking of other ways to achieve our goal and came up with a completely new approach: Why not give people insight in their own email behavior by offering them a birds-eye view on their inbox metrics? And wouldn’t it be nice if you’d get actionable advice based on those metrics how to handle your email more efficiently?

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Is email evil?

All this (tools to fix email) is out there, but we’re not using it. Not enough of us, at least, and not enough of the time. This, I suspect, is because email doesn’t want us to. All those inboxes want to be fed. They want to make bad habits easy, and good ones just hard enough to put us off. They want it to be just too much trouble for most people and firms to change the way they work

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Email is broken – how to fix it

Dredze imagines a future in which artificially intelligent personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s newly announced Cortana will, as part of their workload, keep an eye on your email for you. “The novel way to think about it is to imagine that there’s an automated person who’s trying to manage your life but who has access to your inbox,” he says.

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