Email Survival and Work Literacy
Does a Knowledge Work Skills Gap Exist?
Work Literacy asks the question; “Does a knowledge work skills gap exist?“ I answer: “You bet!”
For example, let’s talk about email. I find almost everybody knows about the existence of email, and most can use at least a simple version. However, for many people, anything beyond composing a simple message, opening a message, replying or forwarding, and possibly adding attachments, is an unmapped wilderness.
Many professionals feel swamped and victimized by their email load and haven’t developed effective strategies to deal with it. Many don’t know where to find out how to get more control over their inboxes, and where to get help. Their IT support, if it exists, doesn’t really know, or has a more technical approach than they can understand. And besides, everyone needs to find a strategy that works for them in their own particular situation.
I haven’t seen much information about how to deal effectively with business email publicly available. (By “publicly” I mean something people who aren’t sophisticated in their online exploring can easily find.) The blogosphere has rumbled with information about GTD – Getting Things Done – and there’s even a way to add it to gmail, but it’s a system that’s really more aimed at geeks, according to the 43 folders blog
And Getting Things Done may be good for many geeks, but I have developed my own approach.
The solution I’ve found to my email dilemma has been to forward all my email addresses to gmail, where I can add one or more labels, some nicely coloured, to the emails I want/need to keep and then archive them till needed, secure in the knowledge that –
- I have lots and lots of storage space, and don’t need to worry about filling up my quota; and
- When I have to switch computers, whether it’s short term (I’m at my friend’s and want to check my email) or long term (I just bought a lovely new machine!) I can still access all my email on my gmail account.
In my opinion, the easiest strategy to take control of email is to use gmail. However, I have to admit that it’s my geek tendencies that have allowed me to find help by using Google to search and find –
- Online help – http://email.about.com/od/gmailtips/Gmail_Tips_Tricks_and_Secrets.htm and/or https://gmail.google.com/mail/help/about.html
- And a more conventional help source – a book with pictures! http://www.amazon.com/Google-Gmail-Visual-QuickStart-Guide/dp/0321330161
How many people who feel lost in the online world would think to search for a solution to their email problems there?
Using gmail is a possible solution but the real problem is, how to help knowledge workers find out what they could be doing to make their lives easier. Many say they just don’t have time to learn new stuff or even look for help.
Knowledge Skills Work Gap Problem
So we have circled back to the beginning. Strategies and solutions are available, but how do we get the information out to the people who don’t know what they don’t know?
WebTools for Learners, this blog, is my attempt to help share the knowledge, but sometimes I think I’m preaching to the choir. Those who already know, approve of what I say, but do any of the real learners actually find this blog and benefit from it? I keep trying and keep looking for ideas and suggestions about how to connect with those who need to know.