Last week a client complained at being emailed by another colleague who sat just five desk away. How often does this happen to you? We have a love hate relationship with email: its fast and easy but not always the best communications channel. An over dependence on email at the expense of other channels is one of the primary causes of email overload. Yet how many of us make the effort to think outside the inbox before hitting send.
Very few judging by many of my client’s experiences. However, some leading organisations are being innovative and for example banning all internal emails and having no email days in an effort to both reduce email overload and improve communications. These range from high-tech companies to housing associations and architects.
My behaviour will influence your behaviour here are three ways to encourage others to think outside the inbox.
1. Provide an incentive for them to talk to you.
2. Use an alternative tool to provide information which people really need, for example the form for requesting leave, a sales update.
3. Implement email free times and office zones.
To reduce the email dependency (and even email addiction) above all else make sure you create the role model: next time you are about to hit send, get up and walk and talk to the person. Try responding to external email with a phone call. You might be pleasantly surprised at the extra information you pick up to help progress that important sale.
Did I miss not having any email yesterday? What was the effect on my work-life balance and business? Would there be chronic email overload the next day?
Normally I check my email first thing in the morning with a coffee in hand from one or other of the available devices (ipad or Mac). However Wednesday was No Email Day. Initially I felt at a loss. That day, I was hosting a guest at an important lunch event meeting and second there was some urgent work to finish. Not checking my inbox gave me back an hour to be properly prepared.
During the day I did cheat a couple of times and ask our Office Manager to check my inbox. She dealt with the really urgent messages which left me to focus on and complete the pressing client work. Normally I check my emails before switching off as many of my clients are on different time zones. However no one balked at a reply 24 hours later, No contracts were lost, no clients deserted me. The plus, time to read a book and get an early night.
For me even as an email management guru the key lessons were:
Mesmo Consultancy’s recent studies show that email is here to stay for at least another five years. The key to using email effectively is to take control and rule the inbox rather than let it distract and rule your day. That may mean some email management training in the new year.
Feeling under the cosh with email overload and trying to reach inbox zero? 12-12-12 is the date for the ‘Concert for New York’ to raise money for those still effected by the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. Having been to NYC recently and experienced some of the devastation, worrying about our email seems quite trivial set against those who lost everything when Sandy hit.
Nonetheless, for those who are struggling to manage their email more efficiently help is at hand as 12-12-12 is also No Email Day. How can that possible help you ponder. Surely people will just save all their emails for the next day. That would be to miss this glorious unique opportunity to step out the inbox and review just what you are achieving when you send an email.
Email is only one of a burgeoning range of media. Yet we default to email whether through laziness, habit, addiction or lack of knowledge and skills about how to use the alternatives.
On No Email Day, before you hit send ask yourself:
The other great ways to use No Email Day are first, clear out of your inbox all the old and irrelevant emails which are of no value whatsoever to either you or your business. This might also highlight the second positive action, get some email management training to help you be more efficient.
No one is suggesting we abandon email indeed far from it. However, just once in a while it pays to ‘dry-out’ and stop taking the drug. Click here to check your current level of email addiction and how you can lower it and be more efficient.
Think about those caught up in Sandy and who lost power never mind email. They and their business survived with no visible impact to the bottom line.
One No Email day – with no new mail alerts here is an opportunity to develop better more creative ways to communicate whilst at the same time reducing the level of email overload.