Emails – saving or waste of time?
Hardly anybody can imagine business life today without emails. We
often consider them as an essential time saver: quickly written,
quickly sent, quickly replied. That's how we wish them to be
ideally. However, what if this "one quick email" becomes 20, 30,
even 50 or more emails a day? Immediately after the 'Ping' that
tells you an email is waiting in your inbox, a response is often
It's undisputable that emails are a facilitation of our
business life, and many of us spend more than 20% of working time
dealing with emails. All the more important that we use emails to
really facilitate our work instead of hindering it.
- Always use a clear subject in the subject line
- Include only one subject per mail
- Change the subject when changing the topic
- Use an appropriate letter style and proper grammar
- Formulate question/message clearly
- Delete parts of messages that are no longer relevant
- Only put persons in the 'TO' field who you expect an answer
from the rest on 'CC'
- Email as few people as possible - think about who really MUST
be on 'CC'
- Read your message again before you send it to check
- Reply only to those concerned by your answer, not always
- Use rules to redirect 'CC-mails' into a separate folder
Dr. Jackson from Loughborough University, England, found that
a person that is interrupted from their current task by an email
will need about 64 seconds to focus back on the original task.
Assuming 30 incoming emails on an eight hour working day, that's
2.7 hours of inefficient work a week. Compare this with your
printing press: what would you say if your press produced only
waste sheets on Mondays from 8:00 am-10:30 am at full production
But the problem is not only that employees' concentration is
affected by emails, it is also time that is wasted reading messages
that are actually irrelevant for the reader or unclear, and thus
trigger further inquiries. Also, the email threads that are
formulated but are not necessary to understand the topic of the
email are a typical time killer. A study among 180 managers
identified 32% of the incoming emails as irrelevant for the
recipient . The trend is especially evident by emails that include
a decision or a decision making process, that put many people on
copy, in order to spread the responsibility for the decision.
Efficient email communication is not hard to learn. You can
easily train your staff on email efficiency and make your company a
more efficient work place in which emails save time instead of
wasting it. The tips above can help you with this. And don't
forget, sometimes the 'old fashioned' communication channels like
the telephone work the best!
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