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It’s Shocking How Much Time is Wasted Using Email

How managing your inbox can make you more effective.

I was startled to realize that the first email was sent in 1971 by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson. In the next 51 years, approximately 306 billion emails will be sent daily. There are somewhere around 4 billion users of email worldwide. That’s about 76.50 emails per user per day worldwide. Managing your inbox is more important now than ever before. By 2025, it’s projected that there will be 4.6 billion daily email users and 376 billion emails sent daily. What does this have to do with anything? Email is ubiquitous; unlike some have predicted, it’ll be here for the foreseeable future. And it can be a helpful communication tool.

How Time is Wasted in Email

With all that email, there can be much time wasted working with email. Some ways time is wasted are sending and receiving unnecessary emails, email as a distraction, unnecessarily being cc’d on emails, over-checking emails, and a cluttered inbox.

Enter Capture, Analyze, Resolve

In the Total Effectiveness System, week three, we cover how to use the “Capture – Analyze – Review” model of working in email. This model will save you hours per week and prevent anything from becoming lost. The first step in this method is choosing how often to check and work on email. To start, I recommend 5 per day. First in the morning, mid-morning, noon, mid-afternoon, and evening. Then adjusting as needed from there. The key; when not in email, close it. Also, you should not have any email notifications active, as it takes 23 minutes to recover from a distraction. Next in Capture Analyze Resolve is to establish a location where you can capture email conversations that need further work. When you’re checking your inbox if you can resolve an email in two or three minutes, do it. If you can’t, you capture it in your established location. So what to do with the captured emails? Choose a time each day to analyze them, and resolve them by creating tasks and appointments. If that task or appointment resolves the email, you can file it or delete it. Often emails will need further work, so they are still “captured” until they are resolved.

Some Other Email Tips

  • Consider using the out-of-office responder to set expectations on your response time. Perhaps “Thanks for your email; I’ll respond to your message within the next two hours.”
  • Include desired response time in the subject line. “Info for report needed, please reply by close of business today.”
  • Bring a de-railed email chain back on the subject by restating the original purpose of the email. “I appreciate everyone’s input on this conversation. I believe the original point was X?”
  • Set a goal for the email. What are you asking the recipient to do, or how would you like them to respond?

Wrapping Up

Email can be an agile tool for communicating, and with a few simple steps, you can save hours each week that you could spend on one of your critical roles. The Total Effectiveness System is launching again on September 6th for six weeks. Click on this link to register for details and program updates. You can always reach out to schedule a complimentary informational meeting on my contact page at this link.

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