Monday, March 31, 2008

Battling eMail Overload

If you're like me, you're drowning in a tidal wave of emails.

In 2006, the average corporate email user received 126 email messages every day ... up 55 percent since 2004, says market research firm The Radicati Group. If you spend just 60 seconds reading and responding to each message, that's two hours out of every eight-hour workday. Moreover, if corporate email traffic continues to grow at its current pace, in 2009 you can expect to be spending 41% of your workday managing your email.

In his Small Agency Diary in Ad Age last month, Marc Brownstein argues that "e-mail is diverting our best waking hours from thinking, conceptualizing and dreaming big ideas."

"It is very easy to come to the office, sit at the computer, and read/respond to e-mail for hours," he says. "Some of it is clearly useful, and maybe even billable. But let's face it -- most of it is tactical. Real thinking occurs when you shut off the digital tools and focus on the challenge at hand with just your mind, and perhaps a fellow collaborator or two."

My top three techniques for managing email overload include:
  • Setting aside time at the very beginning and end of the day (and a mid-day peak) to send and respond to emails. (The rest of my day is devoted to thinking and interactions with live human beings, in person and on the phone.) Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule e.g. client or organizational crises or other urgent developments.

  • Never "touching" a piece of email more than once. All emails are answered or forwarded and filed. Conversations are best held over the phone.

  • Banning "PDA prayer" during meetings. (That's when people in a meeting discreetly hide their Treos and Blackberrys in their laps, under the conference table, while checking their emails. It's just rude!)
What tactics have you developed for minimizing what Brownstein calls "the gravitational pull of email"?

Technorati Tags: email, email overload, The Radicati Group, Ad Age, Marc Brownstein, Small Agency Diary, business, communications, public relations


Blogger Cyrus said...

I think this has as much to do with the fact that we haven't adjusted the work day and the way we work in a way that will allow technology to meet its promise.

The world is littered with things that were supposed to be "world changing" -- videoconferencing comes to mind, for example. However, in many cases, the reason they didn't have much of an impact was because workers and the business world didn't change with it.

Monday, March 31, 2008 4:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We did it to ourselves. Now my clients expect immediate replys, immediate deliverables and more!

What happened to the days of designing an ad in 3 to 4 weeks? Now most of my clients request deliverables in 2-4 days!

I admit...I'm addicted to email. Blackberry, laptop, webmail, etc.

I can't operate without my email software open.

Maybe there's a market for email management consulting? We could supply a personal assistant to break the horrible email habits. The PA will slap my hand when I try to open my Entourage.

Thursday, April 03, 2008 8:40:00 PM  

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