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Five Steps to Clearing Email Clutter
You probably don't need a consultant or business advisor to tell you that emails can be a huge drain on your time.
While the email certainly has been one of the most important innovations in the workplace, many studies have proven that we spend around 28% of our work week writing, reading, and sorting emails. That's a lot of time that could be spent more productively.
Research from Harvard Business Review showed that when executives of a London-based power company dropped their email use by 54%, their entire company followed suit, without any instruction to do so, and emails dropped by up to 64%. The result? An estimated 7% gain in productivity that year.
If you don't think your company can commit to such an initiative, there's still a lot more you can do to avoid wasting time on email. Here are a few email habits you can avoid for a more productive workday.
Don't cc: people unless they absolutely need to see the email. While emails are good for updating people on the status of a project, don't cc: everyone. By including people in the loop who aren't directly involved you're simply adding junk to their inboxes.
Avoid misleading subject lines. Yes, subject lines need to be concise. However, that doesn't mean that you have to be generic or vague about your subject lines. Instead, try to follow a format when sending out emails. For starters, include the project name, urgency of the email, and what the email is about. Additionally, don't derail email threads with unrelated answers. While it might seem to save space in the inbox, it makes it harder for the receiver to backread the conversation since it's under a different topic.
Stop sending emails when a quick chat will do the job more efficiently. Need something done immediately? Why not directly approach a person and have a quick chat with them about the task? Email threads help document important tasks and the instructions that go along with them, but for other requests, it's easier to just approach the person directly and have them email you their output afterwards.
Address all your concerns in one email. Don't you hate it when people reply with a one-liner on an email and then, after a few minutes, ask a question? Reply only when you've thoroughly understood the email. Avoid unnecessary long email threads by addressing all your concerns in a single email. And don't forget to be concise about it.
Don't waste other people's time with long-winded emails. Be direct to the point. Your recipients should already know what the email is all about and what is expected of them right from the first paragraph.
Emails are useful in keeping in touch with your employees. Be a good role model by letting them know that you can use it in an effective and efficient way.