You might remember a few years back, there was a small debate over whether or not email was actually invented in 1978 by a 14 year old boy tasked with replacing a New Jersey University’s mail system with electronic communication. Who knew it would take off so explosively? Today, almost 1.5 billion emails are sent worldwide every single day, over half of which are business centric (BrandSpeak). On average these take individuals approximately 11.2 hours to read and reply to each week. That’s a massive 28% of a 40-hour working week!
With an increasingly mobile workforce, email is becoming the easiest form of communication for business professionals. However, it can often feel like writing and responding to emails is all you do! Managing time spent in your inbox could greatly increase your productivity, freeing up time for other things.
Stop “productively procrastinating”
Exercise some self-discipline and make yourself some email rules. As it’s unlikely you’ll be able to avoid email all together, removing alerts and allocating a few short time slots throughout your day will limit interruptions. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re being productive when you answer emails because they are technically work, but holding back will train your peers to accept that they’ll have to wait for a response from you and show you that immediate communication isn’t always the answer.
It might be helpful to work out exactly what type of emails you’re receiving. Separate the junk out from the necessary to escape further distraction from emails notifying you of Pizza Palace’s 2 for 1 latest deal, for example. If you’re working on projects with multiple organisations, you could arrange your inbox into folders for each company respectively. This way, you’ll know exactly where to find things if you need to look back on something or reply in a hurry.
Control the version monster
One reason why you spend so much time emailing is our age-old enemy; versioning. It’s so easy to waste precious time hunting for versions and feeding back on them over email. Fortunately, there is software out there to help you! Document comparison software alerts you when a new version of a document arrives in your inbox so you don’t have to search for it. Furthermore, you can view versions side by side in one view, so making changes is as easy as possible. Switching to a client extranet, where documents can be shared externally while you stay in control with customisable access to files. As feedback can happen directly in the document this is another way to slim down your inbox.
We hope these tips help you on your way to curbing the inbox habit, but remember; the first step to acceptance is admitting you have a problem.
Learn how to reduce your email load with Workshare’s file sharing and client extranet software here.