Everyday I find myself engaged in or hear others talk about the onslaught of email communication. Frankly, I sometimes wish it was harder to create and send an email. Maybe that would slow down the pace or force people into consolidating both the message(s) and the invitees. Okay, I don’t really believe that’s the right solution, but…
The reality is that if I don’t reply to my emails instantly, nothing in my life or the life of a sender is going to change, so then why do I find it so hard to set a timer and read/answer email no more than 4 times a day? The time management gurus teach us that we should never reply to emails right away, because you condition people to expect an instant response although email isn’t an instant messenger app. I know they’re correct. I just know most all of us struggle.
We have company-wide policies on how quickly emails are responded to. We don’t have any issue adhering with the email communication in our client services or support areas. Our problem is the everyday stuff. The stuff that isn’t vital and isn’t’ tied to SLAs-Service Level Agreements and metrics. We don’t’ even have trouble with our policy, which calls for answering emails from clients the same business day. That policy which says to provide 5-star service, we at a minimum acknowledge we received their email, even if we don’t have an answer yet. The issue arises for us, and I know for many of you, with those emails that fall in the general category, including internal communications. Like many of you we have team members in different locations and even different time zones. I don’t have time in this blog to get into all the issues that arise with internal emails, although some of the same best practices apply.
Here are a few things you should consider stopping. Seriously, please just stop! Stop assigning the same value and responding responsibility to every email in your inbox. Use a ranking system of color – Outlook makes this very easy. Trust me, you can rank email and manage when you answer it. You can also stop using email as the “go to” and pick up the phone or use instant messaging, particularly for intercompany communication. Very “millennial” of us, I know. More on this later, but working in a communication platform that allows groups to “chat” is great for monitoring and being inclusive, but not having to use email. And lastly, stop thinking there is no solution for the glut of email. Pick up a mirror. Stare into it and see the solution. It’s you. It’s me. It’s people. It’s people deciding how to communicate most effectively. So my last “Please Just Stop” tip is, stop letting the biggest enemy of productivity we have, time fragmentation, win. We all need to be able to focus for extended periods. Every time we are distracted and interrupted it costs a lot. So please, please just stop letting email get in the way of you being a productive genius!