Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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Too much email? This company offers a solution…

Has email taken over your life? Do you have so many email accounts, and receive so many messages that it seems you spend all day on email? Do you wish that it would all stop?

The average person receives over 100 emails a day, and many people in large organizations receive many more than that.

As the author of an IT column–and this blog–I read lots of tech publications and blogs. This takes me in interesting directions. A couple of days ago I read about SaneBox, an application that claims to help users save hours each week normally spent sifting through hundreds of Inbox messages.

laptop with email spilling out of mail slotSaneBox triages incoming emails into three folders:

Inbox – important 

BlackHole – spam – junk mail

Later – bacn – read later

What’s intriguing is that SaneBox takes a first stab at what goes into each of these three folders. Then you review SaneBox’s choices and “train” the application if you want to move emails from certain senders elsewhere. This is something that none of my email client apps can do. In MS Outlook, I can make rules, but it would be time-consuming to create a new rule each time I receive email from a new contact. In Apple mail and with Web versions of most common email providers, rules don’t exist.

SaneBox works with Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange, IBM Notes (fka Lotus Notes) and IMAP email accounts. By default, the application adds two new folders (@SaneBlackHole and @SaneLater), and you can add a couple more–but start with the default to keep things simple.

This is a subscription service. You can register for a free 14-day trial and $5 in SaneBox credit if you click here.

Email is here to stay, at least for a while.

Since email is here to stay, at least for the immediate future, it may be worth your time to  look at this application.

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The paperless office: are we there yet?

The other day I tackled overstuffed file drawers and the papers piled on my desk. I filed, recycled or shredded several reams of outdated documents. During this exercise (it was pretty physical), I noticed that my company saved fewer paper records in the last few years than when we started the business. Likely, we continue to retain more printed paper than needed. How much is enough?

office clutter

Image: USA Today

We are far from the “paperless office.” Running a management consulting firm with an environment, health & safety (EHS) IT focus, one might think that most transactions are electronic, not paper. We send essentially all work products electronically and print some of them. We use accounting software and print invoices and reports for our records, even if delivered electronically to clients. We receive electronic documents from others, and print some of those, too. Each party seems to save time, printing and postage costs. Are we reducing paper use, or just shifting the burden to others?

 “Less is More” aptly describes paper records. Lack of trust in electronic records may cause us to use more paper than necessary.

In businesses large and small, email remains the most common transmission method. Email is inefficient because it allows multiple document copies, versions and “message threads,” not to mention redundant storage. With so many email attachments, which version is the correct one?

I prefer shared workspaces to email and have promoted their use for many years. Collaboration tools like Google Documents, Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint and Zoho are gaining acceptance in large, global organizations. These tools are worth every penny when they

  • promote consistent business processes,
  • increase productivity,
  • make content readily available,
  • provide a “single version of the truth,”
  • have a user-friendly interface, and
  • offer a secure way for people to interact 24/7.

Collaboration tools are in their infancy and have limitations. Often, the tools seem easy to administer but require multiple attempts to properly set user permissions. Often, their interfaces and features are so simplistic that they do not meet user needs. For instance,

  • online document editors are simpler (read: less functional) than desktop office software.
  • document work spaces have limited functionality without customization.
  • calendars are rudimentary.
  • survey tools are rudimentary with few data analysis features.

Software vendors, please make tools more functional, yet keep them simple!  And offer me more FREE Cloud storage space, so I do not need several Cloud accounts to manage my work.

I welcome more mature, yet user-friendly collaboration tools.  With increasing content management in the Cloud, we can better manage day-to-day work. The result? Less paper, I hope!

Pixel This: No Paper! sums up the “paperless office” issue pretty well.