What if we were to ask you, "How many seconds since you last checked your email?" What would your answer be? One second or a minute? Well, you are not to blame. In today’s “always on” and “always available” work culture, managing emails and responding to them the moment they come has become a task in itself. Not sorting mails, as they come, results in overload that eventually leads to fatigue. But do you know that constantly responding to emails can also affect your productivity? In fact, this phenomenon has resulted in people actually conducting research to find out how this “reply-as-you-get-this-email,” is affecting employee productivity, and what to do about it.
According to a study conducted by the Radicati Group, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day is expected to exceed 293 billion in 2019. On any given day, the number of unread emails or those requiring a response is growing per person.
The effect of e-mail overload in the workplace can be negative. It can lead to a loss of productivity, wasted time and money, and finally, an unnecessary dose of anxiety and worry.
However, all is not lost. We can take some steps to prevent e-mail overload from dictating our day. By following some basic and simple rules to managing e-mail overload, you can manage your workplace demands effectively and come out on top of your work.
Set rules for your Inbox
Yes, you can do that! Most modern email software come equipped with options that can help you automatically manage your mail traffic such as, automated filters, flags, creating folders, starring important emails, etc.
These functions are present in almost all mail versions and are pretty useful in helping you organize emails. Once your Inbox is well-organized, you will find that your life is far more sorted. You will be able to take action on those, which need immediate attention, and address the less important ones later.
Clear the clutter
The world has been taken by storm by the “Kon-Mari Method” these days, with Netflix even running a series on it. But did you know that clearing the clutter in your inbox can also help organize your life?
‘Delete’ does turn out to be your best friend when talking of managing email overload. At any given time, there are usually a large number of emails sitting in your inbox. Becoming brutal while deleting them is a necessity to achieving a clean Inbox with only essential mails sitting in it. Deleting and marking emails as spam can help clear your cluttered inbox resulting you getting more out of a day at work as well.
Limit your love affair with e-mails
Sometimes, your habit of constantly checking emails becomes compulsive. Therefore, it is essential to limit the frequency with which you check emails. Ensure that you review your inbox only a handful of times in the day. Maintaining strict discipline with regard to the intervals for checking emails will spare you time and help you prioritize your mails better. Also, it is good to refrain from venturing into reading and responding to emails that are merely FYIs or promotional emails that you have not signed up for.
Brevity is crucial
Learn to write shorter and smarter emails rather than long, descriptive mails, when it is not needed. If you are replying to a thread, then best to reply on the mail-thread than create a new one and give the background all over again. When answering emails - the briefer, the better.
To reiterate - composing a new email, for each continued conversation, is unnecessary. Make use of the threads. With thread conversations and auto-reply, one can easily save time on compiling emails and focus on the actual work at hand.
For all of us, achieving an ‘Inbox zero’ status is the ultimate goal for managing email overload. Once you achieve it, maintaining a completely empty inbox is not difficult if consistency is exercised. If in case there are thousands of emails in your inbox, create a folder called old inbox and store them there so that they can be accessed when required.
E-mail overload is nothing but a hindrance when trying to be productive at work. Managing and organizing the mail inbox with the help of these rules can increase productivity and improve your performance as well.