Email: Does It Help or Hinder Your Work Productivity?
The invention of email was supposed to make communication and your life easier. But you would be surprised—or maybe you wouldn't be—to learn just how disruptive it can be to your work productivity. Outlined below are four easy and surefire ways to carve more time back into your workday by making email more efficient and your communication more effective.
Sort and prioritize: Set up email rules and filters so that emails you are only CC’d on are moved to a separate folder from those where you are a direct recipient. You can filter your personal emails from your professional ones. Filing and labeling your emails by their project, business type, or type of action or response needed will not only help you prioritize what emails to answer first but also help if you need to go back and refer to an email.
Short and sweet: Brevity is the soul of wit. When composing an email, include only the necessary information, get to the point, and make it easy for the reader to quickly understand why you sent the email. If you find your email has turned into a wall of text or a stream of back-and-forth response, then either pick up the phone or schedule a time to meet the recipient face to face.
Stick to a schedule: It’s important to respond to emails in a prompt manner, but the reality of the situation is that most people understand your job isn’t all about answering emails. Schedule a time to check emails, and don’t make it more than once an hour. It’s almost impossible to get much of anything done if you are continually checking your email and interrupting your workflow. For added effectiveness, close your email program after completing your scheduled email check. This will keep you from getting distracted by email alerts, the looming number next to your inbox, or flashing text in the tab of your browser if you run your email through a browser-based email client.
Have email templates: Although it is ideal to handle each email with the utmost personal care, sometimes it can be too time consuming and downright unreasonable to craft personalized responses. Some emails that require action can be handled with roughly the same response. If you find that you are constantly responding to emails by sending customers to your website's FAQ page, explaining directions for software, or typing the same set of responses, then a canned email response may be the best thing that ever happened to you. Using email templates delivers the main chunks of information you need to convey, saves you time, but still allows for personalized edits when necessary.
Email has become a vital form of communication in today's world, but sometimes less is more. Spend less time checking emails by getting your inbox organized with filters and labels. Spend less time answering emails by becoming better at deciphering which emails require an action and which can receive a generic response. Most importantly, stick to a schedule and stay focused. Consider these four surefire ways to make your email more effective—and your workday more productive.
What email tricks do you implement to be more effective? Do you think email is overused as a medium of communication? Tell us in the comments.