Have you ever found yourself drained at work, with an overflowing email box demanding your attention? Connecting through the internet has never been so easy, but the trade-off is a bulging inbox. Managing your email may seem a daunting task, but don’t let this put you off; everyone goes through email management problems at some point.
Learning creative ways to deal with the ton of email at work is crucial, otherwise you’ll spend hours at the office digging through an ocean of messages and email marketing campaigns. The more you and your teammates delay dealing with the mountain of emails at work, the more imminent a company meltdown becomes. However, with a little know-how and planning, there is an easy way to get on top of that inbox!
First, let’s take a look at the impact that an over-crowded email inbox has had on business, then we will discuss methods of managing your system.
Email – a bonus or a block?
There’s no doubt that email has helped make businesses operate faster. It offers a means of communicating across thousands of miles, regardless of time zones, in a cost-effective manner.
However, it has also multiplied the volume of work people have to do by increasing the need to respond to urgent messages in a timely manner. Improvements in Internet connectivity speeds worldwide have increased people’s demand for instant responses and their urge to spread information. Emails these days are looking much more like to-do lists, indicating that the amount of information is outpacing our ability to process that material.
Here are some data that offers insight on the current status of email.
- 205 billion emails were exchanged daily in 2015, and the numbers are projected to increase by 3% yearly until 2019 ends
- 38% of emails in a regular inbox are relevant and significant. The rest are just dead weight
- Previously, relevant and significant emails comprise 42% of the inbox. There is a downtrend in the amount of relevant content in the inbox
- Redundant emails at work cost businesses all over the world an approximate sum of US $650 billion every year
- It takes a regular employee six seconds to react to an incoming email
- A person dedicates 28% (13 hours) of his work week to reading and answering to emails. That’s 650 hours of inherently unproductive labor
- The typical worker cost an employer $10,000 annually for email-induced distractions alone
- Computer users who are cut off from email access change windows 18 times an hour while those connected to email did so 37 times an hour
- Mid-level managers that use up to 100 hours for managing low-value emails preferred constant email access and decreased inbox email volume
Although the amount of emails sent and received is projected to increase, the relevance of every inbox worldwide looks like it’ll take a turn for the worse. Based on the data above, email overload won’t show signs of slowing down, a trend which won’t help with overall productivity. It’s time to find solutions.
Improving your communication
Communication is absolutely vital within any business operation, so getting rid of email does not necessarily fix internal communication and organization. It is more effective to open up different communication channels for different business operations. The most popular channels used by companies are email, video call software, and online collaboration platforms. The aim is to target three goals:
- To reduce the amount of internal email exchanges
- To deepen teamwork, transparency, and relationships
- To optimize internal communication and business operations.
Achieving these goals can be accomplished in three ways:
- Development of organization mind-set and email platform management
- Use of live communication (voice calls, face-to-face communication), especially in team projects
- Use of project management and online collaboration platforms to conduct internal business operations.
Although digital by nature, email is created to emulate a postal mailbox. It may have a huge capacity, but it’s not meant to be a channel for instant communication. The result is that email can’t adapt to the speed of the current era.
However, this does not mean that e-mail is obsolete. If used as intended, email can be very effective. The issue with email arises when you attempt to utilize it for other purposes, such as a file storage system, or an instant messenger, or group chat app.
Related reading: 8 ways to improve team communication
Email does not eat up much memory or bandwidth, especially if it has been optimized for mobile. This feature, plus its user-friendly list-panel format, make it accessible from virtually any electronic device. Sending an email is like sending a letter; you mail it as required, and wait for the response. It is not intended as an instant messaging service.
Email is ideal for ‘no-pressure’ situations. It’s not meant for high-frequency, high-volume mail traffic – which is exactly what gives rise to email overload. Email’s platform design offers the user time to go through the email list and deal with each at your own pace.
The best way to manage your email is to:
- Trust your instinct and delete whatever looks like garbage
- Write short and clear messages so that your recipient won’t have to respond for clarifications
- Re-use short messages and subject lines, especially when you have a unique email vocabulary or if you have recurring sentences and projects.
Other methods of communication
Unfortunately, the ‘relaxed’ trait of emails does not contribute to the improvement and stability of the company’s performance. Time is money in business and each delay may add up to millions.
To avoid risk, it’s advisable to conduct team business operations through Skype group call or better yet, team meetings. Here are some advantages of video calls:
- Enables communication that’s real-time and remote at the same time
- Makes communication possible in any almost any situation
- Devices for phone/video calls are portable
- Gives confidence to people who can talk but can’t confront in person.
Advantages of face-to-face meetings include:
- It develops trust between people
- It improves credibility
- It lets communicators build better relationships
- Business operations can be communicated using all five senses, making it the most efficient channel
- Body language, in the form of facial expressions, hand and arm gestures, vocal modulation, and other forms of non-verbal behaviour, help demonstrate the genuine character and motives of other people
Face-to-face communication and video calls are the best channels if you want to send quickly your thoughts or ideas across or if you need to produce immediate results. Face-to-face and video calls also develop stronger bonds within teams, by allowing direct interaction and empathy building.
As powerful as face-to-face and voice calls are, they do fail at one important business process (that email is good at): storing and extracting data.
Project management and collaboration software
To push internal communication to its peak performance, a company must develop or adopt a culture of transparency and objectivity, combined with a workplace that stimulates openness and creative thinking. However, if you do want a communication channel that doubles as a business platform, a beneficial option is to choose project management and collaboration software. These programs or apps offer the following benefits:
- The whole team can monitor the progress and productivity of one another
- Remote employment is not only possible but also effective
- Stored data is accessible to everyone in the team at any given moment
- The team’s bonds are strengthened through shared experiences
- Availability for urgent calls is increased
- Optimize space, travel time, and money
- Physical limitations on business are bypassed.
These collaboration software platforms can make a big positive difference in company culture and work ethic. An orderly and transparent working environment, even if it’s digital, helps team members strategize their personal work systems to match others, creating harmony in the workplace.
The Information Age is pushing us to create new ways to communicate freely and deliver results. When techniques such as email start causing nothing but inefficiency and stress in the workplace, their effectiveness needs to be addressed.
Although email does have a place in business, it is often misused. Employing other means of communication can take the burden off your inbox. Whatever resources you utilize, take advantage of their strengths and manage them in the way they were intended. In this way, you can help to build your productivity and ultimately achieve your goals.
Learn what makes Azendoo unique
I recently gave an interview on the Talon Storage blog about improving collaboration at the workplace, you can read it here.