Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

How banning email improves team productivity


There’s a new book “Under New Management” by David Burkus coming soon that includes some unconventional management practices, and one of them is apparently “banning email.” Something I did in my company three years ago. Something I didn’t think was new but now I see it really is. Whenever I talk about “No Office,” people ask me about my email policy and they’re surprised that we banned email in our company. They give me this “Can you do that?” face. Of course you can. You actually should if you want to have a productive environment for your team. Only allow email to the “outside world” and ban email within your team. This is how it’s done:

How banning email improves team productivity

If you manage your projects through email you are doing it wrong!

Email is bad for you and your team because we get too many messages every day and the important internal emails get mixed up with other correspondence with people from the outside world.

To solve this problem we designed a new way to communicate: we use email for the outside world and something else for “internal communication.” We use two apps for that: Slack and Nozbe. This is how we communicate:

Nozbe is to communicate through tasks

Nozbe is our main business communication app because we create shared projects and create tasks in these projects. We communicate through tasks in the comment section of each task.

Such communication is asynchronous so if I add a comment for someone I know they will work on it when they choose to, not when I say so. This gives them space to focus on their current work. Without distractions.

By sharing projects and tasks we have more transparency. People see what’s happening in each project, who’s responsible for what. All is clear. We totally avoid all these issues of somebody not copying someone on something or forgetting to BCC or whatever…

We use Slack as our company chat room to simply “blah blah blah”…

We use Slack for our company chat just to blah blah about things and send funny GIFs and other stuff. Just to exchange information. However, whenever an item becomes actionable we create a task for it and put it in an appropriate project in Nozbe.

My new inbox is my “comments” section in Nozbe

People ask me how I deal with my email inbox if my communication goes through Nozbe but the truth is that my new inbox is my “new comments” section in Nozbe. This is where all the action is. This is where I can be on top of things happening in my company.

How banning email improves team productivity 2

The cool thing about approaching communication through tasks is the fact that all relevant communication is attached to the task at hand. It all has its context.

With email, things can go in different directions and very often in one email people try to tackle different things.

When you comment on a specific task, there’s no doubt what the comment applies to.

Ban your emails, use specific apps to communicate through actionable items with your team

So there you go, don’t be afraid: BAN EMAILS. Use email only to connect with people outside of your team and use specific tools to communicate through tasks and through chats with your team.

This way you and your team are always on the same page and you can decide when you want to focus on working with your people and when you want to check out what’s happening in the outside world. These two communication channels don’t get mixed up anymore. It’s healthier this way. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for the last 3-4 years. This can be done and it works extremely well!

Monday, June 20, 2016 /emailban/