The Impact of Spam

Thursday, July 17th, 2003
The impact of Spam on personal productivity


Last July 15th, I began a test, which was to last one year.   Instead of deleting my junk email, I added a Spam button that moved the Spam into a separate database, where I could track what I received  and what the impact on my productivity might be.

In just one year, I received over 53,000 unsolicited commercial email (a.k.a. Spam) totalling over 400 megabytes of data -- in just one of my email accounts!
Image:The Impact of Spam
If I consider the amount time spent downloading, identifying, deleting, and replicating the junk email that I received for just one year in just one email account, the numbers are staggering.

In the past, I had avoided purchasing SPAM elimination tools because I perceived the cost of the software and the time for me to configure it to be too high.  I thought that I was quite efficient at selecting a range of documents and pressing the DEL button -- multiple times a day to clear my mailbox.

Now, I see that I was wrong. Big time.

Let is consider a scenario in which each message received consumes 2 seconds of my time to download, identify, delete, and replicate.  (This is a very low number when you consider download and replication times)

53,000 junk email  x 2 seconds each = 106,000 seconds = 1767 minutes = 29.45 hours = 3 3/4 work days.  
(Based on an 8 hour work period)  

That's almost 4 work days lost annually, if we use the very conservative number of just 2 seconds total time lost per message!
   And, its is getting worse by the day!

In actuality, I think the average is probably closer to double that.  And again, that does not include the lost productivity due to interruptions or distractions, nor does it include the slowdown on your computer, your server, and your backups.  This weekend I was at a hotel and it took 20+ minutes to download the SPAM before I could get to my important email.  How do I begin to put a price on the cost of the disruption?  And what about all of the viruses that I received this year from people I did not know or want to hear from?  I do not even want to think about it.

There used to be a day when the "New Mail" indicator actually meant that a message from a someone you wanted to hear from had been received.  Now, most of us turn this feature off so that we can get some work done.

My next big project, will be to research how to configure the built-in SPAM reduction capabilities of Domino R6 as well as a few third party products that offer whitelist and blacklist capabilities.  

Personally, I will probably end up using an approved whitelist solution as I believe that it will be the most effective.  

Either way, I do not plan to give up another 4+ days to junk email in the coming year.  


I intend to solve this problem for myself, my staff, and for those clients who want to gain back their time and their productivity.


-Eric

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