Stop Wasting Time … on Email!

EmailMarcelle Yeager contributed an article to US News (Money) entitled, How to Stop Wasting Time on Email. The article cited a study by the McKinsey Global Institute to uncover how much time workers spend on social technologies during the day. The result was that employees spend about 28 percent of their days reading and responding to emails. Email is a useful communication and collaboration tool, but 28 percent may not be the optimum usage of time.

Marcelle’s article pointed out that some jobs do require a very large amount or almost exclusive use of email. However, if yours doesn’t fall into that category, it may be time to re-evaluate how and when you use email, says Marcelle. It is tough to resist checking your email particularly if you are awaiting a specific reply, but it may be equally tempting to scan all of the new mail and therein lies the problem. The article offered some good and poor uses of email. You can read the original article here.

Here is my take:

Good Uses of Email

1. Sending notifications – If there is something that a large group of colleagues needs to know about, send a concisely written email. Explain any necessary attachments to save people the hassle of opening it unless they need to read the entire contents.

2. Following up – Design your mail folders in a complementary fashion for your work and the number and level of contacts to whom you must be responsive. Construct spam and junk mail folders and consider short responses.

3. Networking – Write a personalized note to the person you want to meet. Explain the context of you need to connect with them and the topic you would like to explore. As appropriate, you should a brief description of what can bring to the connection and an offer to help, if possible.

4. Notes of Thanks – When someone helps you on a project or does something nice for you, send a note of thanks. You could also consider a quick phone call, as well.

5. Meeting Replacement – No one will argue that some meetings are big time-guzzlers. Explore if some items on a meeting agenda can be resolved by a phone call or email. If there are certain issues that require a meeting, perhaps the agenda could be reduced to the bare essentials.

Poor Uses of Email

1. Late Night – Some people may send emails to their bosses or co-workers early in the morning or late at night to let them know they’re working off-hours. This may not bump you to the top of the corporate ladder. If your boss is a workaholic, perhaps you’re expected to do this. But if not, you may be perceived as having poor time management skills and a nonexistent work-life balance.

2. Back–and–forth – If you’re going back and forth with someone on a matter, just pick up the phone! This is a much quicker way to deal with the issue. You will save everyone involved in the matter, including yourself, time.

3. Complicated or sensitive matters – The more complicated or sensitive, the more appropriate a meeting or a phone call will be. When you need to make sure a message is conveyed clearly, set up an in-person meeting or talk on the phone. Personal or legal issues may require documentation, so be sure your email connection is private and secure. This type of information can backfire by getting sent to the wrong person, an in-house attorney or human resources and “bite you.”

Related Articles:   5 Email Lessons … for everyone!   and   5 Email Time Savers That Increase Productivity

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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