The birth rates of email are increasing every year. According to the Radicati Group, the typical businessperson sent and received around 196 emails per day in 2014, and this was a 35% increase from the volumes measured two years earlier. So, if you feel that all you do all day is respond to email, picture your life in two more years. Gulp. Your email situation will not get better without an inbox intervention – starting today.
As tempting as it is to blame the growth of email on everyone else, change starts at home. What can you do to slow the growth of the email you send and receive?
Start by having a conversation about when to email you (and when NOT to)
It often feels easier to copy someone than risk not keeping him/her informed. Talk to your colleagues and support staff. Clarify when to copy you and when not to. Consider asking for a daily or weekly status report that summarizes recent activities. One status report email can replace tens or sometimes hundreds of email messages sent and received.
Avoid using CC: and Reply All unless necessary
By the same token, ask people when they want/need to be copied – don’t assume someone needs to be copied, especially when they have no actions to take on the email. And if you reply to all, take a moment to delete names of recipients who are not impacted directly by your response.
Compose emails that generate results and not just replies
Emails that clearly and concisely state the needed actions to be performed will not only get you what you need but will also reduce the necessity for back-and-forth responses to clarify your requests. Watch this video for more tips on composing the perfect email.
Remember that email is not the only communication tool available to you
If there are more than three back-and-forth replies, pick up the phone. Or, pick yourself up and talk to your colleagues. Not only will you improve communication and reduce email, but you may even increase your life expectancy.
There is no magic bullet to curbing the growth of email. However, it starts with you and your daily choices on how to use email. A tool is only as effective as the person who wields it.
Dr. Melissa Gratias (pronounced "Gracious") is a work psychologist who helps overwhelmed and underappreciated businesspeople be more focused and effective. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated with honors from her onsite sessions, distance coaching, productivity seminars, and corporate consulting projects. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Melissa is available for nationwide consulting and speaking engagements. Contact her via email at [email protected] or call 912-417-2505. Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter or visit her website, melissagratias.com.