In the current world, and in most work environments, email has become an indispensable part of life. And this has happened for good reason… email allows people to rapidly communicate across large distances, sharing content and ideas. This increase in the speed of communication has enabled business models that were not possible in the past and has catapulted business to perpetually faster rates of speed and innovation. The unfortunate side of this fantastic tool is that the rapid rate of communication it enabled has also enabled rapid mis-communication. Because of this, it is highly important to ensure that the way we communicate over email and the way that we manage email are both effective. In order to effectively use email, we need to balance its use with over-use, under-use, andn inappropriate use. We need to learn how to find the important emails quickly and sort through the unimportant emails even more quickly. Due to the importance of email in the contemporary workplace, we have created eight methods for professionals to be more effective in their use of email:
1) Turn off the pop-up reminder
One of the biggest problems most people encounter with email is that they stay on their email all day long Email1and1. We need to understand that sorting and replying to email does not count as productive work. (Neither do meetings for that matter) It is only when we drive a business decision or other activity that leads to revenue and profits that we can claim to have created value. Because of this, we need to make sure that we do not allow email management to dominate our schedule.
One of the first steps toward achieving this goal is to turn off the pop-up reminder that shows us we have new email messages. This allows us to focus on the tasks we are currently working on and counteract the perpetual distraction of email pop-up alerts. By focusing our concentration, it will be easier for us to generate more productive information that drives decisions and generates business value.
2) Constrain email management to certain times of the day
The single email habit that hampers the most people is perpetually checking and managing their emails while conducting other tasks. This is frequently referred to as “multi-tasking” and it does absolutely nothing to help us be more productive. It may ‘feel’ like we’re doing more, but what we really accomplish when multi-tasking is to do multiple things poorly instead of a single thing well. When seeking to be more productive, it is much better to concentrate our activities in certain times of the day so that we can focus and produce the highest level of quality possible in the shortest amount of time possible.
Because of this, many people recommend checking email at three junctures during the normal working day. Once when you arrive at the office, once before lunch, and once before the end of the day. This allows you up to three response cycles over the course of the day, and keeps a maximum amount of time free to focus on value-added activities. Keeping the need to communicate in balance with the need to produce is how you can build a balanced time use profile to drive value with day.
3) Use filters to sort out emails based on their importance
Most email programs have a “filter” function that allow you to sort emails into folders based on the sender, the subject, or multiple other factors. What this allows us to do is sort the emails we receive into different folders or categories so that we can sift through the high-importance items first. This is highly important since it is likely we will frequently need to address some emails immediately while others wait until a less urgent time. The exact structure of how you sort emails you receive will be unique to you, but it should allow you to quickly see what has been received from which group of contacts so that your responses can be quickly prioritized.
4) Use email to facilitate conversations that drive decisions
Always remember that the primary purpose of email is to drive value-added decisions. It is important to understand that the email itself will very rarely be the vehicle where the decision is made. Because of this, every email correspondence should have a purpose that drives the conversation toward a decision point.
5) Don’t use email to hide from uncomfortable conversations
Another of the most frequent and most egregious misuses of email is to avoid uncomfortable conversations. It is very easy to mis-communicate over email, and many people will infer meanings or motives that may not have been intended by the sender. Similarly, many people will “talk tough” over email, but will be much more mild mannered in personal correspondence. All of this can be avoided by using email for its main purpose, instead of leaning on it as a crutch to avoid productive inter-personal communications.