By Brenda Robinson
In some office settings, today, people are receiving anywhere from 70 - 180 emails each day. People come into work and have 30 - 35 emails waiting. Sometimes, it feels like people don't sleep anymore - they just stay up sending emails. Although we still receive phone calls, faxes and hard copy communication, emails are the main cause of the information invasion. What can we do to manage the ever- increasing flow of emails?
1. Send selective, specific, meaningful emails. When people realize that you put careful thought into your emails they will follow that lead in responding to you.
2. Take the time to eliminate spam and junk mail. Get off unnecessary mailing lists and mass mailouts.
3. Choose specific times of the day to read your emails. Avoid the temptation to check your emails more than 2 - 3 times per day.
4. Send emails with easy answer formats such as checks or fill in the blanks. This will eliminate the receipt of new email responses all the time.
5. Ask for a response using technology instead of the written word response.
6. When 3 emails go back and forth and clarity has not been achieved, go back to the old fashioned method - phone them.
7. Let people know that you don't want to receive jokes and chain letters on your work email.
Try this response:
This mail address is for work related information. As much as I enjoy a good joke or cute story, I just receive too much information at this email address. Some people set up specific addresses for receiving jokes and personal information.
Try this reminder:
Your jokes are great. My email address _______ has been set up just for that purpose. Thanks for helping me keep them separate from my work related mail.
8. Spend 5 minutes per day deleting old, used, no longer current emails, allow them to sit in your deleted item file for about 1 - 2 weeks and clean out your delete file once per week or so.
9. Use the subject line to establish priorities. Check the email quickly to determine if there is need for immediate action.
10. Try to read an email only once. If action is required, take action - if no action is required, do something with the email - save, delete, file, flag …
11. Check for patterns in emails. Take time to correct inefficiencies. For example - an email to simply say "thanks" may be a waste of time. Some people think they must respond to every email - we end up thanking each other for thanking each other.
12. Don't just spell-check - read before you send. A lot of waste is related to inaccurate, not proofread emails. Read aloud to help clarity and understanding.
13. Organize your action emails by deadline and priority. A good system is a simple:
A. These must be answered today/They require immediate response.
B. There is a deadline looming in the next day or so.
C. Will be answered when all the "A's" & "B's" are done.
Note: You may wish to design a little flag system for your screen.
14. Accept emails as part of our info-driven world. Stop complaining about the info invasion and manage it.
We once lived and worked in a world when information was power. The more information you had, the more power you had. We now live and work in an era of shared information. The more people know about more, the better prepared our organization can be. Become the one who shares what you know and asks for more shared information for you. Instead of feeling invaded, try feeling included.