It seems we’re always wrestling with our email inboxes. But Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano just gave up the fight all together. She doesn’t use email. From Politico:

“I think email just sucks up time,” Janet Napolitano told an incredulous group of reporters on Tuesday, speaking at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

“In many respects, in a job like mine, it’s inefficient,” Napolitano said, noting that she is briefed by staff frequently and prefers to use the phone for much of her work. “I stopped using email when I was attorney general of Arizona. I was like, ‘Why am I spending my time scrolling through this?’”

Napolitano’s preference has us wondering, is it better that powerful people are unreachable via email? Or does Napolitano’s tactic simply create more work for everyone around her?

  • Shaimoom Newaz

    My take is that communication related to projects should be administered through Project Management software/apps like Trello in order to maintain the context and timeline of the conversation. Any form of quick communication can be made via text or chat. Thus, email is somewhat in between, or no-man’s land. It is like sending a message in a bottle. I send out messages and have no expectation of when I will receive a response. It almost unidirectional at times. All in all, I still use email, but I prefer Trello for serious communication.

  • Shane

    She has email, it is just managed by her assistant. It is a bit like saying I do not drive to work when you have a chauffeur driven car.

  • Clear Thinker

    It must be the cynic in me but all I can think of is “Plausible deniability”.
    “No Congressman, I do not recall that conversation and no I did not receive that email”.

    Actually quite brilliant.

  • beatboxing

    I can’t imagine what such executive work is like. At my lowly level, a lot of email is being CC’d and getting CC’d on projects, conversations that occur around and above my level, just in case I have some input.

    Also, if I want to propose something, I’ll write up a formal email (or if i’m the recipient). Ms Napolitano is probably always afforded access, when need be. She’s probably also in control of what projects, news she needs to stay up on.. Most of us down here are informed of what the left hand is doing via wide distribution email.

    Thing is, she’s not managing people, she’s not managing projects, she’s doing her thing at the enterprise level where she executes her (or her boss’s) vision in the broadest of strokes.

  • Mason

    I would like to see more details about this topic.

  • http://twitter.com/Warrior James Stevens

    I emailed Mark Cuban a few years back and he emailed me back. I guess it depends on how you view it and whether or not you value the potential communications it allows. I don’t care how powerful you are… email is better suited than phone for certain communications and vice versa. To me she just sounds snobby saying it the way she did.

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