The end of Daylight Savings Time is now and you know what that means: We’re losing an hour of daylight! (Argghh…)
Okay, okay, we don’t really “lose” an hour… but with the clocks being shifted back an hour it certainly feels like it. So, in response to the end of Daylight Savings Time, I’d like to propose that we begin Email Savings Time! This means that starting on November 6th, everyone reclaims an hour per day from their inbox by managing their email more effectively and efficiently.
I know at this point some people will say to themselves, “But Marsha, I don’t even spend that much time in my inbox. How can I even reclaim an hour per day from working on email?”
My answer is that most people don’t even realize how much time they spend on email. Here are the facts:
- On a daily basis, knowledge workers (basically anyone who works on a computer) handle an average of about 110 emails.
- They spend roughly 25 percent of their time working on emails and visit their inboxes 50 times per day.
- Over the course of a year, this adds up to 500 hours and 12,500 inbox visits per worker!
So with this in mind, let’s not lose an hour each day when Daylight Saving Time ends… let’s take back an hour (or more) with Email Savings Time. Here’s how to do it.
1) Check Your Inbox Five Times Daily (Or Less)
Shut down the entire inbox and open it a maximum of five specific times each day. In even the most demanding work offices, five inbox checks a day will allow you to open your inbox nearly every 90 minutes during an eight hour day. If someone needs something in sooner than 90 minutes, they should call.
2) Simplify Your Messages
First, make sure your writing is as clear and as concise as possible. Put the main points of your email in the first sentences and avoid abbreviations. Reduce back and forth emails by using “If/Then” statements and list a number of different options for your reader to choose from.
Second, pick up the phone more! Email is not a substitute for conversation. It’s a tool to share data. Before you click send, ask yourself if it will require more than two emails from you. If the answer is yes, pick up the phone and make the call.
3) Clean Out Your Inbox
The average worker gets about 110 emails a day. That means if you check your inbox five specific times a day you will have around 22 messages to “empty” each time. Emptying means that you delete each email or sort it into a folder where it can be easily retrieved later. “Empty” does not mean “work.” It means SORT! Using this method you will be able to triage and streamline your email tasks, saving you time and sanity!
By using these three tips, any knowledge worker can reclaim at least an hour per day and boost his or her productivity. And while your co-workers may have to stay late to finish up a project, you’ll be taking off from the office early, enjoying the daylight, and reaping the benefits of Email Savings Time!
With the ever- increasing deluge of email we receive, the greater the possibility that emails will be skimmed or misread also increases.
To enhance the impact of your emails, here are four helpful hints:
1. Keep messages short. The fewer words in the email, the more likely they’ll all be read. Period.
2. Make your requests for action specific and clear . If you are requesting action, don’t bury it in the middle of a message. General requests have a habit of being minimized. So if you want someone to provide you a report “please provide the xxx report to me no later than 2:00 Friday of this week” works better than, “please send me your report.”
3. Place your request, conclusion, or direction in the first line of the email. People read the first sentence. Use it! This is where your specific action, request, or summation should be. The further down the email, the less likely it will be read.
4. When assigning a task, place only one address in the “To” line. This establishes responsibility. If you put several e-mail addresses in the “To” line, there is a chance that each of the addressees will think the responsibility is not theirs. And if you’re targeting the wrong person, you’ll be the first to know!
Are you an email flipper?
Waaaaaa? Wadyamean, flipper?
An email flipper is a person who can’t bear just let an email “rest.” In other words, you receive an email, think there is some good information in it, and just HAVE TO think of someone to send it to, then send it.
OK OK. We’ve all done it.
But consider this – with the average worker getting 110 emails each day, is it good or poor etiquette to add more to their mix? Why not decide to only send emails that are critical or important – not “nice to have.”
Why do some people feel compelled to flip? Dunno. Perhaps they want to feel productive, perhaps they want others to know they’re thinking of them, or maybe even that they just can’t take the reigns and say “Good info, now onto the next task.” What to you think?
Challenge for the week: Don’t “flip” them, let them rest
If you find yourself working later and later each day to get everything done before you can leave the office, then it might be time to lay the blame squarely where it belongs, and take steps to rectify your system.
No, you won’t need to confront your boss or start delegating to the temp, instead, you need to reassess your relationship with your email program. This can be a hard confrontation for many people to handle, especially since you have been working under the assumption that your email actually saves you time because you can stay at your desk, have fewer meetings and avoid lengthy phone conversations. Of course email does have its productive points, and you can use the following steps to hone in on those benefits, and leave the time consuming aspects of your inbox behind.
1 – Multitask productively
Having your email program open on your computer all day so you can read a preview of every email which comes in is not multitasking productively, because you are stopping what you are doing to check your emails. Instead you need to work with asynchronous technology in order to take an overall multitasking view to your work role, while in practice doing just one thing at a time.
2 – Work in blocks
Rather than having your email open all day and viewing every new message as it arrives, set aside a block of time two to three times each day to check your emails and respond. This allows you to focus on each email which has come in without feeling the pressure to respond immediately.
3 – Write short emails
If you find yourself working later and later each day to get everything done before you can leave the office, then it might be time to lay the blame squarely where it belongs, and take steps to rectify your system. No, you won’t need to confront your boss or start delegating to the temp, instead, you need to reassess your relationship with your email program. This can be a hard confrontation for many people to handle, especially since you have been working under the assumption that your email actually saves you time because you can stay at your desk, have fewer meetings and avoid lengthy phone conversations. Of course email does have its productive points, and you can use the following steps to hone in on those benefits, and leave the time consuming aspects of your inbox behind.
4– Don’t reply all
If you are replying to a group email, or sending an email about a group project, don’t feel compelled to reply to everyone involved. Cut down the recipient list to only those people who will action the points in your email, as this will stop unnecessary and redundant replies from other team members.
Thanks to Alban Smith for his perspective on email productivity. What do you think of his suggestions?
Here is today’s e-mail management tip:
Turn off all dings and flashes.
You have got to stop interrupting yourself, and the best way to do it is to turn off the dang dings. You should choose when you go in to get your e-mail messages, just like you choose when you go to your Postal Service mailbox to pick up your mail. The continual interruptions of those flashes and things are more toxic to your productivity than you know. Turn them off and see how much more work you get done… Then, let us know!
What is your best e-mai. management productivity tip? Share it here..
Here is your Tuesday e-mail management and inbox productivity tip:
“Twitterize” your messages. Well, your messages don’t have to be a maximum of 140 characters, but the point here is keep your messages short short short short short.
The shorter the message, the more chance all of it will be read.
Too many people skim e-mail messages, so the shorter your messages, the greater the likelihood that every word of the message will be read.
What is your best e-mail management and inbox productivity tip? Share it. with all our other subscribers here.
Did you know that the second week of June is National Email Week?
Well, since it is, we are going to take the opportunity to go over some do’s and don’ts of email etiquette and email management. Each day, we’ll give you a new a new tip. So check back with us each day to find out the tip of the day.
Here is today’s tip!
We talk about 4 times faster than we type.
So, Instead of taking a long time to craft a convincing e-mail message, pick up the phone, talk through the proposal or the idea, then confirm the results of that discussion. Guaranteed — you will spend less all time , and get greater results !
What tips do you have to share during National E-mail Week? Post them here!
Yes, people say “arghhhhhhhhhhhh” when receiving an email that was obviously sent “reply all.” Every unnecessary email has potential to add to both the sender and receiver’s workload, or should we say work over-load…
Among points made, Neilsen actually removed the “reply all” button from its company email accounts. And Nathan Zeldes suggested that the “reply all” button be moved away from the “reply” button, to avoid either temptation or inadvertinant mistakes.
What do YOU think?
If you haven’t done so already, take our spiffy online assessment of your e-mailing practices. 20 questions about your incoming e-mail management and 20 questions about your outgoing practices… how do you rate?
Click here to access the assessment that will open your eyes…
These are the same assessment questions that are contained in our book, Inbox Detox. But the great thing is that the online version will calculate your scores for you!
To find out what you consider to be the greatest sources of Information Overload, both for you individually and for your organization, as well as to understand how these challenges are being addressed, the research firm, Basex, developed a survey that asks you to share your thoughts on this topic.
Please click here to take the survey.
Participants will receive an Executive Summary of the survey’s findings and can also enter a drawing to win a set of Dilbert CubeGuard information overload blockers (three sets will be awarded). Please share the survey link with colleagues who should be interested in the results.