Email overload is a problem in the workplace as it directly affects productivity. The McKinsey Global Institute found in 2016 that an average employee spends 28% of their work week reading and responding to email, which is approximately 13 hours a week. Spending over a quarter of your work week reading and responding to emails is clearly not a good use of your time. Here are three specific email related problems with productivity and solutions from this NYC Professional Office Organizer. Implement these email management tips into your workday and watch your productivity increase.
Email can be a distraction from assigned projects. In The State of Work from Workfront and compiled by Harris Poll, 43% of people at work stated that reading and replying to email was a major distraction keeping them from working on important projects. To combat this, there are many tools available that will move communication and collaboration on specific projects outside your email inbox. This then allows your inbox to return to its main purpose of immediate needs or interacting with clients outside the workspace. You can utilize a project management system like Asana that allows for conversation and comments directly on specific projects or tasks, or a tool like Slack that allows for communication within specific project channels and the ability to share files and comments all in one place.
Constant email checking decreases productivity. A study by the Danwood Group found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover from an email interruption and to get back to work at the same productivity rate as you were before you opened your email. If you are constantly checking your inbox every time you receive a new email, you can see how quickly that wasted time adds up. Instead, schedule email checking times throughout your day. Set the expectation with an autoresponder in your inbox so that those emailing know when they can expect a response. If you can limit email processing to 2 or 3 times a day, you will see your productivity increase.
Break the habit of over-communication and unclear communication through email. One way to cut down on the email overload is to simply send less email. Before you hit reply all, make sure that the information you are sending is really necessary for everyone to read. Second, make sure that you are using the subject lines to clearly state what the email is about. Email subjects such as “Please read” or even “Hey” mean nothing to the reader and gives no indication of the content of the email. Be specific so the recipient of the email knows at a glance what the email is about and whether or not they need to read it at that particular moment.
Breaking the habit of email overload is no easy feat and will require not only time but direct and specific actions. By implementing these changes, you will be able to get back to work and increase your productivity. For more email management tips and hands on strategies, reach out to your NYC Professional Office Organizer.