Digital Workplace Blog

Why I've Abandoned My Inbox

Posted by Amit Jain, CEO

I have 58,000 unread emails in my inbox. Yes, you read that correctly — five-eight-zero-zero-zero.

Yes, like all CEOs, I am a busy person. But that’s not the whole story. The main reason my inbox is overflowing is that, for most work-related projects and wireless meetings, I believe that email has outlived its usefulness. And here at Prysm, we have created a superior solution. While email was a significant technology advancement of the 20th century, it has some glaring limitations:

  1. It takes information out of context. My inbox presents itself as a giant list of unrelated information. Subject lines may or may not be descriptive enough to clue me in to why they should be important to me. And because I interface with dozens of people on a weekly basis (and I’m not that great with names), I have a difficult time scanning the list and identifying the senders.
  2. It’s inadequate for content management. Since we get mountains of information coming to us via email, it’s only natural that the inbox would become content storage. Unless you’re disciplined enough to detach every attachment and file them on your computer, and then copy and paste all of the relevant inline information into documents, your email becomes a filing system, albeit a terrible one. Sure, I can create a list or hierarchy of folders. But when I want to refer to them later, I have to drill down. Also, after time passes, the subject lines don’t necessarily ring a bell. I can search by keyword, but if I type in “monthly report,” for example, I will get a list of dozens of emails — 99% of which will not be the one I’m looking for. Not very efficient.
  3. It’s outside of my regular workflow. How often do you need to “quickly” refer to your email to retrieve a snippet of conversation or a statistic that relates to a current conversation you’re having? I used to do it frequently, but because of the limitations I explained above, it’s a time-consuming and inconvenient experience. To complicate the issue further, I spend a lot of my work time presenting — in prospect meetings, on phone calls, in staff meetings, in one-on-one meetings, and on the road. When I’m presenting, I sometimes have those “Oh — I need x. Where is that again?” moments. But during a presentation, I can’t toggle to my email application without exposing my inbox to my audience. It’s better to have another place to store these tidbits…one that’s easier to navigate.
  4. It’s siloed. When I present to customers (or to the board), it’s often not from my own laptop. Sometimes it’s from a customer’s machine. Other times, because I make a lot of these visits with sales reps, it is from one of their computers. So it’s not always possible for me to get to my email to retrieve something when I need it.
The great news is that Prysm Visual Workplace addresses these limitations in very elegant ways:
  1. It puts the information back in context. Prysm conveniently stores your content — web pages, videos, data, PowerPoint presentations, etc. — in visual content projects. So when I want to refer to statistics or notes from a board meeting, I just open the corresponding project and it’s at my fingertips. And not just the files, either. It will preserve the exact screen position of the content where I left off. The information remains in context. The same goes for my staff meetings. I ask each staff member to upload their notes, spreadsheets, and deliverables to a project, which I can review at my convenience (from the office, from home, or from the road). I can redline and comment, even annotate their documents directly. They revise and save their revisions back to the project, so everything is always organized and in context.
  2. It gives me a persistent repository that’s easy to refer to. Prysm Visual Workspace projects are a great way to organize content. They also serve as a historical record. For example, my staff and I save all of our data, presentations, and notes into projects for board meetings. At the beginning of each meeting, I open the project from the last meeting and quickly review the content with the board. This helps us all get aligned and up to speed. Our ideas don’t get lost and we are always moving forward.
  3. I never have to leave the environment. Instead of toggling from application to application, or from application to my email, everything I need is always inside of my project. While this is convenient for my daily work, it’s also very useful for presentations. How many times have you seen the contents of a presenter’s inbox (or file system) as he or she was presenting? With Prysm, everything is right there in the project. Viewers never see anything I don’t want them to see.
  4. It’s in the cloud and always available. Because my Prysm projects reside in the cloud, I never have to worry about having my laptop with me. I can present or access my information from anywhere — a client’s office, my iPad, or my home computer. If something happens to my laptop, there’s no need to panic; the information is always backed up and safe.
Of course, email still has its uses (for example, how else would you find out about upcoming selections from the Wine of the Month Club?). However, when it comes to projects and meetings, it just might be time to close your email and move forward.

Topics: Future of Work

Amit Jain