Monday July 22nd, 2013, 9:52 pm
Six trillion business e-mails were sent in 2006 according to David Ferris, senior analyst of Ferris Research. Although some have predicted its death, email as the default mode of communication has only continued to increase. The two main causes of email overload are the volume of email traffic and lack of effective management. This turns a supposedly quick and convenient means of communication into something time-consuming, distracting, frustrating and ultimately counterproductive. The stress of dealing with this kind of information, hitting us from all directions equivalent to a hundred newspapers being hurled at us at once, affects both our health and state of mind. This is not all. Unsolicited or unwanted emails cost companies billions in lost revenue. But by effective traffic control and management, we can hugely reduce email overload. The benefits of this are enormous in terms of mental, physical and financial well-being.
Here are ten simple tips to achieve just this:
- Avoid indiscriminately using features like “reply to all” or CC/BCC. These are some of the biggest culprits in increasing email traffic.
- Do not feel you need to acknowledge every single email you receive. ‘Netiquette’ demands that you acknowledge emails but use your judgement and discretion here.
- Use NRN in subject headline; saying No Reply Necessary saves both you and your correspondent unnecessary emails
- Set up rules that automatically prioritise, forward or delete emails.
- Observe the ABC of effective writing by making your emails accurate, brief and clear, and format the layout so that the reader quickly, clearly and directly gets the message you intended. These avoid unnecessary and annoying back-and-forth of emails.
- Use filters and blockers to reduce spam mail.
- Set up multiple email addresses so you receive only work-related emails on your work email account.
- Be careful where you post your email address and request senders not to send you group emails where all recipients can see your address. This way you can prevent, to some extent, marketing companies harvesting your email ids from public places.
- Unsubscribe to unwanted newsletters.
- Colour-code to identify and separate urgent and priority emails which need immediate attention.
Above all, think if you really need to send an email. Can you pick up the phone or have a quick face-to-face chat instead? The more you send, the more you will receive, so avoid being a part of the problem.
Modern technology is supposed to save us time, enable us to work more efficiently, and make our lives less stressful and more productive. And it does. Only, we have to learn how to manage it so we are in control rather than the other way around.
Alastair is a freelance writer and has provided this article on behalf of Communicaid a culture and business communications consultancy.