The average office worker receives hundreds (if not thousands) of emails every week. Trying to manage inbox activity at this level is nearly impossible. This forces most people to either neglect their inbox or their work. Either way, a costly sacrifice must be made.
The Lowdown on Email Overload
Data curated by SaneBox suggests the average person spends 28 percent of the workweek reading and responding to email. That equates to roughly 650 hours per year – the majority of which is reactive, low-value work that fails to move the proverbial needle in a positive direction.
In the average inbox, you’ll find just 38 percent of messages are important or relevant, while 62 percent can be processed as bulk messaging. And when you consider that it takes 64 seconds to recover from each email (regardless of how important it is), the risks of an overactive inbox are clear: wasted time, stress, and confusion.
In a separate study, it was discovered that the average office worker receives something north of 121 emails per day, which has conditioned 90 percent of people to check their email on a regular basis throughout the day.
5 Ways to Reduce Email Overload
Email overload might sound like an intense name for something that seems so innocuous on the surface, but it’s actually a very accurate descriptor. You, like millions of your peers, are overwhelmed and stressed by email – to the point that you can’t focus on anything else throughout the day. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Reclaiming your sanity, boosting your productivity, and improving your daily satisfaction with your job could be as simple as making a few specific changes.
Take a look:
- Use SMS Instead
Sometimes sending an email is the best choice. Other times, there’s a better medium. And if you’re sending an email internally to a coworker, team member, or employee, ask yourself if a text message would be better.
According to TextMarks, SMS enjoys 98 percent open rates compared to just 15 to 20 percent for email. In fact, roughly half of employees will ignore mass internal communications sent via email.
SMS is obviously a bit more personal than email – so you can’t abuse it – but in certain situations, it’s the best option.
- Use Meetings Wisely
One of the biggest problems with meetings is that the takeaways aren’t usually very clear. This leads to lots of email follow-up after the fact. But if you make a habit out of ending each meeting with clear and documented takeaways for each person in attendance, you’ll see post-meeting email activity plummet. This alone can save you from receiving dozens of emails per week.
- Reconsider Your Own Email Habits
You might despise email, but are you part of the problem? If you want people to stop sending you so many emails, perhaps you need to rethink your own email habits.
Any time you send an email, you’re basically opening yourself up to an onslaught of replies – particularly if you CC a list of people on the message. So before hitting that “send” button, ask yourself whether the email is necessary and if each recipient actually needs to be CCd on the thread.
- Write Better Emails
Writing better emails will help you cut down on back-and-forth threads that further clog the entrails of your inbox. A good email is concise, clear, and scannable. If you focus on these three elements, you’ll save hours of time every single week.
While a quick greeting is okay, avoid small talk and irrelevant questions. These are distracting and take away from the main purpose of the email. Get straight into the email and then use bolded text and bullet points to highlight the key points. If the individual receiving the email is expected to take action on something, clearly outline the action steps in a numbered list at the end.
- Create Email Templates
If you find yourself responding to the same types of emails each day – like a request for a quote or a support ticket for a specific error – draft up an email template. Sending these templates can save you from having to redraft an entirely new reply each time.
Regain Control Over Your Day
Email was designed to be an efficient form of communication, but has gradually devolved into a frustrating time trap that feels impossible to escape. However, there are better ways. By reevaluating your approach, you can begin mastering this aspect of your daily workflow and become more productive than ever before.