Email is a massive part of everybody’s life these days. Whilst it has many advantages like reducing costs and increasing accessibility, the question we need to ask is, is email the devil in disguise? Does it do more harm than good?
Here are some scary statistics:
“400 Workers questioned in an on-line poll estimated they spend 6.3 hours a day checking and working with emails.”
“In 2015, the number of business emails sent and received totalled 122 emails per day.”
Nothing sabotages your productivity like an out-of-control inbox and the situation is set to get worse as we rely more and more on email to communicate.
Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. Email needs to be managed in order to save you time and reduce your stress levels, else it does indeed become the devil in disguise. So here are some useful tips to help you.
- E-mail is best handled in batches at regularly scheduled times of the day.
It takes on average 5 minutes to re-focus on a task when your attention has been snatched away by an incoming email so you can imagine how much time it wastes if you are constantly being distracted by emails. Instead, allocate a specific time, say 10 minutes every hour or plan to deal with them 2 or 3 times a day. You can put an automatic reply message alerting people to your working arrangement and asking them to phone you if a matter is urgent.
2. Take off the new mail prompt and sound
This will stop you sneaking a peek at incoming emails and make it easier for you to stick to your scheduled email handling times.
3. Create folders for different topics or projects, or by senders.
This will help you stay organized and save you searching through your inbox trying to find items. Make sure that you don’t have too many folders though as this defeats the object. You can also create rules that automatically move messages to the appropriate folder.
- Get brutal! – Delete, delete, delete!
You can save a lot of time by deleting unsolicited emails, newsletters, messages that don’t concern you without even reading them so be brave! If the matter is important the sender will contact you again.
5. Remove yourself from unnecessary or out of date distribution lists
This will save vital minutes that you’d spend deleting them
6. Use email functions
Options such as ‘flag’ and the ‘follow-up’ will help you manage and prioritise emails. You can also convert emails to calendar appointments or actions in your to do list to prevent duplication of effort. Archive actioned items so you can maintain the paper trail without it’s immediate presence.
7. Ask your e-mail contacts to use specific subject lines, and make sure to use them yourself.
This will enable items to be easily found, categorized and actioned.
We can also spend too much time when writing emails, making sure the wording’s just right, all the detail is included etc. Help yourself be more efficient by following these simple rules.
- Keep them brief and easy to read – use bullet points and lots of space. Ideally, the maximum length of an email should be no longer than 3 or 4 paragraphs
- Put actions at the top – People tend to read the first few lines and then skim over the rest so ensure the important points are at the beginning.
- Do not automatically hit reply. Emails can become chain letters that involve many different topics and sometimes finding the right email when they all have the same subject line can be time consuming. If you are changing focus or topic, start a new email.
- Give yourself a time limit – don’t spend hours perfecting an email.
- Pick up the phone for complex, potentially volatile or critical matters. Emails are notorious for being misinterpreted, If in doubt speak to the person.
These helpful tips should prevent your email becoming the devil in disguise! For more tips on time management contact Jill@jemtraining.com.au