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Book Review: The Hamster Revolution


hamster revolutionReview: The Hamster Revolution: Stop Info-Glut – Reclaim Your Life by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey & Tim Burress. See Hamster on Amazon

Email management is a topic that is done to death. Despite the numerous volumes already out there, many of us still drown in our cluttered inboxes on a daily basis. As with any form of clutter, it’s a vicious cycle. Once the clutter is there it becomes harder and harder to manage, to find things, and put things away. If we find ourselves overwhelmed in this cycle, it takes hard work to implement, organize, and maintain a better system. Who has time for more work?

That’s where the Hamster Revolution comes in. At just over 100 pages, this book is a short and whimsical look at the cycle of email clutter. The authors give Four Main Strategies to beat this vicious cycle, but I found it to be organized into two main parts, 1. Making email more efficient and 2. Creating a sound filing system.

What makes this book different from most? The authors focus on identifying the sources of email inefficiencies, and get to the root causes of what makes so many inboxes spiral out of control. They make some pretty sound suggestions on how to change your organization’s email culture by Reducing Email Volume, Improving Email Quality and Coaching Others to do the same. To me these were invaluable lessons.

Highlight- Chapter 6 – Improve Email Quality. They call it the A-B-C Approach. I call it the Ah-Ha! Approach.  The idea is to make email a tool instead of a platform by focusing on clarity and brevity instead of long narratives. They suggest achieving this by using strong descriptive subject lines, short into summaries, clear bullet points, and a helpful auto-signature. (I swear, if I could get everyone to start using an auto-signature I would jump for joy).

Low-light – Chapter 11- File and Find it Fast with COTA. While I really gleaned a lot from the email efficiency portions, I was not as enthused with the author’s filing system. Their filing system focuses on creating 4 Main Folders which are ideally used for all email and document management (whether electronic or paper). They claim all businesses should be able to make sense from these pre-determined folders. Perhaps I just didn’t “get it”, but this system would not work for me. I think it’s too rigid. However, I did like that it made a case for limiting the number of folders, creating specific names, and keeping the system consistent.

Wrap Up- Overall, this is worth a read if you feel especially haunted by your email or see your organization needing an email overhaul. The brevity of this book is a huge plus. It gets to the point quickly so I didn’t feel like I was wasting time while I read it from the elipitcal. Of course, be warned, the book is actually about a hamster.


From time to time I plan to bring book reviews to the blog. I’d like to keep the topics within the realm of small business, marketing and productivity. Please let me know if you have a suggestion for something you’d like to see reviewed or would like to share your thoughts on a book in this space.

Email me: mmurphy (at)



One Comment leave one →
  1. 10/20/2009 7:08 am

    Great review of my favorite productivity book. The new one on meetings is also fantastic.

    The COTA system is a bit rigid but I have to admit that it changed my life…now I can find everything in 2 mouse clicks…alot of people at my organization modified it to fit their needs.

    More free tips from the hamster revolution team at

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