How do you deal with Email Overload?
Do you receive too much email? I’ve yet to meet anybody who says they don’t receive enough!
Email is now the most common mode of business communication and yet the vast majority of people I talk to would put it in their top 3 things they hate having to deal with.
Without a doubt the problem is getting bigger. Almost 250 Billion emails will be sent every day this year: that number has been growing consistently at 5% a year and shows no sign of slowing down. Statistics will tell you that, on average, people are spending 2-3 hours a day dealing with ~130 business emails per day and that only ~38% of received emails are important and/or relevant. There are countless other statistics, some of them mind boggling, that quantify the scale of the problem, but ultimately, we can all see the hard evidence in our inboxes every day.
If we accept that only 38% of our business emails are relevant it follows that 62% aren’t. So, if they aren’t relevant why do we send or receive them? It’s pretty safe to assume that every email is important to the sender and at least one of the people on the recipient list: the problems start when we start copying people “for information.” Most of the emails we see as not being relevant are those where we have been included on a “cc” list for information, so eliminating those would have a massive impact with regards to reducing email overload. The problem is that, even if the information in those emails doesn’t seem relevant, there is always a chance to might need it at some point. In today’s fast paced workplace missing a vital email could be the difference between the success or failure of a project. Consequently, there is a tendency to copy everyone on every email “to be on the safe side.” The downside of this approach is that it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between the emails which are for information and those which require some form of action or response. It also means that when we do need something that was in a “for information” email we either forget we ever received it or are unable to find it because our inbox is overloaded!
So, what’s the answer?
Search the internet for “email overload solutions” and you will find numerous blogs and articles full of tips, advice and best practice on how to use email more efficiently and effectively. Whilst the advice they give is sound it isn’t always easy or practical to adhere to all the time which limits its effectiveness. A lot of the advice centres on eliminating inappropriate use of “cc” and “Reply to All” but the problem is people that will err on the side of caution when deciding what is appropriate and in doing so perpetuate the problem.
In addition to good email practice there are a growing number of collaboration software solutions on the market which promote themselves having the potential to reduce our reliance on email. These might seem like the perfect solution but there are drawbacks.
They all have different features so choosing which one is right for you isn’t always straightforward.
When you have chosen there is new software to install, learn and support.
Many collaboration “Apps” use some form of instant messaging as an alternative to email. Whilst this might reduce email volume it replaces it with something else. Granted instant messaging can be less onerous to deal with than email, but it is still only a partial solution.
The different solutions currently available aren’t compatible with each other so you will not be able to collaborate with a client, contractor or other 3rd party unless they are using the same solution. Likewise, if a solution other than yours were to become the de facto industry standard you could find yourself with the equivalent of a Betamax VCR (or Myspace page for the social media generation).
If you switch solutions, you will be left with legacy data that can’t be migrated.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though, because MAIL MASTER offers the benefits of a collaboration “App” with none of the drawbacks.
MAIL MASTER is a completely Cloud based solution that works alongside whatever email program and web browser you currently use to create a fully searchable database of your organization’s emails. Put simply, information is filed using your email program and retrieved using your browser. It reduces email traffic by adopting the best practice of eliminating unnecessary “cc” lists. Emails are only sent to people who have an action or immediate need to know whilst being “filed” in a shared workspace within MAIL MASTER where all those who would have traditionally been on the “cc” list can view them as and when required. Not only does this reduce the number of emails in your inbox, it increases the relevance of those you do receive. If you’re worried about missing something because you weren’t copied, MAIL MASTER can be configured to automatically send a consolidated summary of all activity in the shared workspaces to which you have access. You can set your own schedule for these notifications, so you are in full control of how and when you stay informed. And, when you do need to access it, finding information in MAIL MASTER is far easier than it is with an email program. Its powerful search functionality is easy to use and lets you use multiple parameters to quickly find exactly what you are looking for.