If you are a regular reader of our blog and newsletter, you are familiar with our comments on email and what a distraction it can be. Not only can the alarm of an incoming email interrupt you from something that is more important, the sheer challenge of keeping up with reading, responding and filing of email can be daunting. I recently read a statistic that said 45%-55% of most professional's time is spent using email. That is a very significant amount of time-when does everything else get done?
If you are spending hours a day on email, consider a few strategies and recommendations:
- Do you really need to send the email in the first place? Sending email increases the number of emails that you receive in return (people reply or comment on emails that you send). To reduce the number of emails you get, reduce the number you send
- Keep it simple and short. Use bullets, use an outline and do your best to keep it to the point-don't ramble. Encourage those you work with to do the same. This will save you time writing and hopefully reading messages as well. In our office, we have a rule that if a message is going to go over a certain length then it is better to pick up the phone instead
- Don't copy the "world" just because you can and don't forward on messages that are not vital. The people you know and work with are probably just as busy as you and filling up their email box is not doing them any favors
- Create a filing system to store your emails so that you can easily find them when you need them. But, when in doubt, throw it out!
- Define some rules with those that you work with about email (e.g. restrictions on length, the need NOT to reply with a "thank you" and who needs to be cc'd on what)
What if you could reduce the amount of time that you spend on email by 10%-20%? Would that make a difference in your day? What would you do with the extra time? Maybe you would actually be able to take lunch or take that important 15 minute break!