As IORG Social Media Chair, for the past four weeks my theme has been whether or not business email overload will still be a problem in 2019 and if so can we reduce it. Thinking outside the inbox will a key way to reduce business email overload in 2019. (A shorter version was published on the IORG website).
Thinking outside the inbox is neither easy nor intuitive, There are now multiple excellent other ways to communicate electronically from instant messaging via Skype for Business or What’s App to sophisticated collaborative tools like Slack or SharePoint. Sadly, what often happens is that organisations adopt alternatives to email with no clear guidelines on what to use when. With no clear conventions and frameworks all that happens is that email overload turns into a severe attack of information overload because now you have at least three if not four or five different channels to check.
In the absence of organisational guidelines, here is a simple framework which others with whom I have worked have found very useful. Its called the PNPD Framework for Thinking Outside the Inbox
For any form of communication, there are basically four factors to consider when deciding which medium to use.
Here are two examples of how to apply the PNPD framwork to think outside the inbox to reduce email and information overload.
Scenario 1 – Conversation
Private between two people, delicate but a permanent record of the final discussion will be needed (eg performance appraisal, salary negotiation, disciplinary meeting).
Best option – conversation (face-to-face if possible otherwise virtual) followed up by an email confirming the discussion.
Privacy is high: Numbers are low: Permanency is high: Delicacy is high.
Scenario 2 – Instant messaging
A public message for several people if not the whole office which if not seen here and now is of no relevance later. It does not matter how people react. For example, testing the fire alarm, cakes for your birthday.
Best option – Instant messaging.
Privacy is low: Numbers are high: Permanency is low: Delicacy is low.
For more information on the PNPD Thinking Outside the Inbox Framework see Taking Control of Your Inbox.
It is my view that email is here to stay and the real challenge is how to manage our use of it better. Clearly one way is to manage the actual flow of email traffic in and out of your inbox more efficiently. In relation to the former this means being brave and thinking outside the inbox and consciously choosing to use an alternative.
What is your view?
I can feel the twinkle of his eyes in his handshake. Helen Keller
One of the quickest ways to stop email overload is to reduce the rounds of email ping-pong. Using brilliant business email etiquette to convey the right message, right first time will help. Moreover, you have less than five seconds before the recipient has formed an opinion of you for better or worse. Poor email etiquette can damage your reputation in a nanosecond.
Based on using brilliant business email etiquette, here are today’s four steps to reduce even further the level of email overload and hence improve performance, well-being and mental health.
Use our special free email Business Etiquette Check List to benchmark your email etiquette. Where and how can you improve?
Are there any email chains which could have been prevented if you had either communicated more clearly or planned ahead? What lessons can you learn from these?
Ask yourself, what image am I conveying of myself? How clear and concise is my email based in the checklist at Step 1.
Did you include an adequate greeting and closure to entice the recipient to respond properly? For more tips on how email etiquette can help you achieve an empty inbox and reduce email overload see Brilliant Email chapter 12 and ‘Taking Control of Your Inbox‘ chapter 11.
Be bold. If you receive an email you cannot understand on the first reading, ask the sender what they are trying to say. Send them a link to our Email Etiquette Checklist.
Don’t forget there are lots more tips and advice like this on ‘Brilliant Email’ and ‘Taking Control of Your Inbox’ a book written especially for PAs and EAs.And there are our Brilliant Email Masterclasses.
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PS. Don’t forget to keep cleaning up that folder of old emails which you created on Day 1 (and indeed any other bulging folders).
Mesmo Consultancy is delighted to announce nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 World Email Ping-Pong Challenge. Email ping-pong is a ‘game’ played by millions of employees every day who send pointless emails back and forth instead of picking up the phone. But we digress – we want to find out who are the world’s best email ping pong players.
Have you been in an endless round of email exchanges or spotted a ping pong email game between two people which goes nowhere and often spirals out of control. How many emails did it involve and over how many days/weeks did it last? Tell us what is the longest round of email ping pong you have ever played or spotted? Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded and for the best two responses a copy of either ‘Brilliant Email’ or ‘Taking Control of Your Inbox’.
Please send your nominations either via email or leave your comments on this blog.
Email ping-pong is symptomatic of our addiction to email and poor business email etiquette. Often we forget to use other forms of communication which could be more efficient and solve the problem more quickly, for instance the phone or a face-to-face conversation (live or by video-link).
In January 2017 DMR stats reported that 269 billion emails are sent daily. In 2016 The Huffington Post reported that the average worker spends 6.3 hours a day on their email and The Economist highlighted that processing an email costs the average business just under $1 per email. So ten pointless rounds of email pong-pong means $10 down the sink. Played by ten pairs of employees at least five times a week – your business has now wasted the equivalent of $500 a week. Can you really afford to lose this much profit not to mention time and productivity lost?
Want to bow out of the World Email Ping Pong Challenge to improve performance and reclaim all this lost time and money? Then watch our latest Business Email Etiquette video on how to stop email ping-pong.
Here is a classic email Ping Pong Game in Action
This email ping pong chain is already 12 messages long, and it will start a new ‘set’ with Zack…
If you want to save even more time managing email more efficiently why not call us now about our Brilliant Email Management workshops or buy yourself a copy of either Brilliant Email or Taking Control of Your Inbox.
How can you entice people to respond properly and in full to your emails? Try the 5S Formula for writing business emails which are polite, professional and compelling without being either arrogant nor pushy.
Still having trouble getting people to respond to your emails? Click here to benchmark the rest of your email etiquette.
Hacked emails accounts reveal potentially damaging emails and some off the wall tips on dealing with people who expect an instant response to their emails. Articles of not this month touch on the need to maintain appropriate email etiquette regardless of who you are and whether using a business or personal account.
Do you want to reduce the risk of being the subject of an email fiasco? Talk to us about how our email best workshops and coaching can help.