As we reported last week, email is forty years old this month, and despite plenty of challenges from rival forms of messaging, it’s alive, well and still growing. It seems that many of us suffer email overload, so wouldn’t it be good to take a day off? That’s what the organiser of a new ‘No Email Day‘ hopes to persuade us to do.

No Email Day is a campaign that is encouraging people to stop using email completely for twenty-four hours on 11 November 2011 and do something more productive with the time they save instead. Organised by UK-based Paul Lancaster, the idea sprang from his constant, futile fight to reach ‘Inbox Zero‘.

So, how will No Email Day work? Lancaster explains:

“This would involve switching off your email completely (or simply ignoring it) so you can focus completely on your ‘real work’ or ‘art’ that is currently going undone.

“If you do need to contact someone on this day, emails should be strictly off limits – replaced instead by real life, face to face interaction, picking up the phone or perhaps even writing a letter (remember those?) Better still if you can spend time away from work to be inspired and re-connect with the offline world.”

The idea of avoiding email for a day may sound tempting for some, but wouldn’t that make life difficult in the workplace? Lancaster believes that the role of office email is overrated.

“How did people survive and get work done in the past? Could we be even more productive in the workplace without the distractions of email? Admittedly, some would still need their own emails to do their job but many of us could get by with a shared inbox that we all used to send and receive work-related emails.”

So, will you give up email for a day on 11 November? The campaign is centered around its Facebook page, and you can find more information in this presentation. With only 64 Facebook likes at the time of writing, it’s only just getting off the ground, although amongst those ‘likers’ is Seth Godin, the influential marketing expert.

I’d certainly be tempted to give up email for a day, although the following day I’d look all those unread messages in my inbox, feel bad about deleting them and start replying, one by one…