According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, the average employee spends 13 hours per week reading and answering emails. Annualized, that is 650 hours per year, assuming a 50-week year.
Wow! 650 hours or 28% of our work time is spent on emails. Email is the dominant form of business communication and thus requires effort to create efficiency.
How much of our time is spent searching our inbox for that critical email that got lost in the black hole? Or reading a 20 paragraph essay from your colleague that could have been summed up in 2 sentences? Or not reading the 20 paragraph email from your colleague only to find out later that the key piece of information you needed to complete your project was in that email?
Email is valuable AND can be extremely frustrating. Take the frustration out of email and gain back a couple of the 13 hours per week you spend on it by implementing the following 5 email strategies.
Use Subject Lines
Your subject line is your first impression, make it count.
You would never show up to a meeting without clothes, with your hair a mess or shouting obscenities, would you? No, of course not. Your email should never arrive without a proper subject line that is relevant, current and professional. (See Are Your Subject Lines Engaging or Enraging for more guidelines).
The emails you send are a reflection of you. Present the best you to the world.
Know When to Reply or Reply All
We have all experienced a “reply all” inbox bomb. You know when you open your inbox to find 30 new email messages with the same subject line. As you begin reading through the email train you discover that 100 people were copied on a For-Your-Information-Only email and one person hit the reply all button to ask a random question like “But what about…”. Then several other people respond to the comments as reply all.
Be respectful of other people’s inbox and time by being judicious with the reply all button. Emails should be sent on a “need to know” basis. Reply to only those that need to know.
Know When to Pick Up the Phone
Just as you must “know when to fold them” in poker, you must “know when to pick up the phone” with email communications. There are three key times that you should always pick up the phone:
* When there has been ANY amount of miscommunication
* When there is an immediate deadline pending
In other situations, if in doubt, pick up the phone. A 5 minute live conversation can replace 2 days of email volleys.
Use “No Reply Necessary” or “EOM”
Give people permission to end a long email train by using “No Reply Necessary” or “EOM”, end of message, once the topic has been appropriately addressed.
Think about how much time you would save over a year if you didn’t have to file or delete every superfluous “Thank You”, “Got It”, or “Okey Dokey” email. Save those types of communication for texts.
Manage Your Inbox
Take control of your Inbox. If you don’t control your inbox, your inbox will control you.
Of each of these tips, this one will save you the most amount of time. The key to success with this strategy is to implement a daily practice of reducing your inbox to 20 emails or less. It is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Each time you read an email, immediately file it, schedule an action item on your calendar to address later or delete it.
Implement these 5 email strategies, today. Lower your frustration, save yourself time and save your company time. Win…Win…Win.