Email Overload: Only a symptom

The root cause of the e-mail overload problem is us, our powerful psychological tendencies. Fear and uncertainty and/or the need for instant gratification are powerful drivers for constantly checking one‟s e-mail.

#1: Lack of prioritisation 

  • Fast response to important matters that require your decision.
  • We tend to read and respond to these “easy” or low priority e-mail first.
  • The use of mobile devices in meetings to check non critical e-mail is not only a distraction but dilutes the quality of decision making.

#2: False sense of productivity

Quick e-mail checking or response offers a false sense of achievement and a false sense of control. In spite of working on many e-mail many times during the workday, many people wonder by the end of a day, what they have accomplished, and question the value of their contribution.

  • Establish clear decision making process
  • Inform your team not CC you emails unless its a final outcome/decision
  • Establish guidelines on how to send emails and when to CC or FWD without making it a policy!

#3: Send Less to receive Less

  • Do not cascade down unimportant communication
  • Set a target of reducing your email outflow by 20% in the next quarter

#4: Consider alternative channels

  • Use social/collaborative software for your team (if you need ideas talk to us)
  • Email handled well reduces meetings. And meetings handled well reduces emails!!

Do:

  • Respond quickly and clearly to those who need your attention or input — this will reduce the amount of email you receive
  • When you can’t reply immediately, file the emails for action later
  • Take an email sabbatical on occasion to give yourself a break

Don’t:

  • Assume that email is the real problem — a clogged inbox might mean you haven’t established clear priorities
  • Send one-word emails and reply to everyone on a thread — the more email you send the more you will receive
  • Think a company-wide policy will solve your email problems — focus on what you can control: your own behavior

 

Sources:

http://blogs.hbr.org/hmu/2012/02/stop-email-overload-1.html
http://www.messagemind.com/featured_research/E-mail_Overload_Top_Three_Problems.pdf
http://www.emailtray.com/support/email-management-tips/post-effects-email-overload.html

http://www.thesocialworkplace.com/2012/03/is-email-overload-killing-your-productivity/

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