Inspiring And Enabling People
To Make A Difference
Email was far and away the number one time challenge reported in our survey. It accounted for at least one in every two responses! The reasons why it was a challenge varied but most were overwhelmed by the sheer volume for emails they received or needed to send each day. It is fair to say that it was only the minority of people that dealt with large volumes of email when it topped our poll in 2002, but it would seem that most of the people we talked to this time were dealing with more than 100 emails a day.
I suspect that, for many, the number in their head also included texts and other instant messages but it is still a significant amount of digital discussions. Here’s what Rohit Talwar (CEO of Fast Future Research), had to say;
“It has to be email – there’s just too much! Do you unsubscribe from everything and then feel like you are missing out – or spend 2 hours a day triaging your mail? When do you get your work done – or is responding to email our real work?”
The last words in his message hide the clue for many. Email has transformed from being just a communication tool and is now also a critical process for many roles and jobs. For people that work remotely, in virtual teams or need to be in constant touch with customers and suppliers, email is not a hindrance but an essential working tool. The good news is that whilst the size of our Inbox may increase, we are working far more effectively than we could otherwise in these situations. So, if that is you, pat yourself on the back rather than berating yourself for spending an hour on emails.
I am more concerned about those people that find themselves engaged in emails for significant chunks of their day when it is not a critical aspect of their work. Sometimes, of course, the problem is other people; for example, I was coaching a senior executive a couple of years ago who had just been promoted and saw her Inbox grow from a manageable 40 emails to over 150 emails a day! Most of her emails were just ones that she had been CC’d into as her colleagues aimed to minimise their risk and others tried to involve her in lengthy discussions. We orchestrated an email campaign in which my client sent back polite emails to many on her list highlighting which emails she needed to see and which ones she did not. The result was a 50% reduction almost overnight and a return to sanity.
There are lots of things we can do to manage our Inbox once we understand it’s importance in our daily activities, many of which are discussed in the new eBook – “Mastering Time 24/7″. If you’ve got any top tips feel free to add them below.
For now, I’d just like to share one principle from the eBook – “E” comes before “F”. Before you pass on that great joke, or a whole stream of emails that require scrolling for half an hour; please remember that “Edit” comes before “Forwarding”. Take a few moments to summarise what you are asking the recipient to think about, and, at the very least, remove all of the email addresses in the headings of the forwarding email. I know this will take a few moments of your time, but if everyone did this, we would all save hours every year. In fact, one Board that I was working with got on so well with this that it became company policy.