Last week I highlighted a couple of ways to make your daily trip through your email jungle a bit easier and promised to add a couple more things. I could write for a year on this topic and never run out of things to say. If you don’t believe me, you can run a search on “email overload” and you’ll get over 19 million results. It’s a big, big communication and productivity problem. Recently, the Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge polled more than 38,000 people in 200 countries and found that globally, workers received an average of 42 emails a day. In the United States, the figure was 56 per day. And that’s just the average. Consider for a minute….if you think you have it bad, the experience of Northern Marine Management, one of the largest ferry, oil tanker, and fleet management companies in the world, where many employees received up to 1,000 emails a day. Managers got an average of 400 per day and their inboxes contained an average of 2,500 unread, and a total of more than 8,000 messages waiting to be filed.
And it’s getting worse, not better. Consider these stats and projections from the Radicati Group cited in a Wall Street Journal article nearly four years ago.
Average number of corporate emails sent and received per person, per day:
Percent of work day spent managing email for the average corporate email user:
Now that you are reminded of how overgrown the jungle is, here are a couple more tips. Flag your messages. Click the flag icon to the right of a message to mark it as an item that needs to be followed up. Alternately, you can move the message to the Task list or drag it to the calendar to convert it to a meeting request. This will allow you to track and prioritize your tasks more effectively. But my absolute favorite method is categorizing messages using color codes. Create a color category specific to that subject or action and assign the category or action to every message. This let’s you quickly sort and view related messages, search and find messages belonging to a category, let someone other than you know what action to take on a message and group on the To-Do Bar.
Navigating the jungle of work email is possible, but it takes a plan, a map and maybe a guide. Just setting off with the right provisions/tools is a frustrating and even dangerous way to go.