Here’s a statistic that won’t come as a big surprise to many office workers … but it still looks pretty stark when you see it on the page: According to research by McKinsey Global Institute, knowledge workers, including managers and professionals, spend nearly 30% of their work time managing e-mail communications.
This means that for a typical 50-hour work week, a total of 15 hours are sucked up in the e-mail vortex.
It’s nothing new, of course. And for years, companies and individuals have been making efforts in big and small ways to manage their e-mail.
One method has been through the use of IM social collaboration platforms, but that solves only some of the problem.
Other methods include aggressive pruning of spam mail … sending unsubscribe notices … and tightening incoming mail filters.
Being more aggressive with e-mail unsubscribe requests can lighten the inbox, but other pruning efforts can sometimes be counterproductive, with “good” e-mails getting sent to junk e-mail folders, thereby requiring workers to scan those inboxes every day as well.
Another popular e-mail management technique can work at cross-purposes, too. Research by Carnegie Mellon Institute has found that about a third of office workers file their e-mail messages into folders right after they’ve been read.
But according to Alex Moore, who heads up e-mail management service Baydin, Inc. creating files associated with different clients, projects or people turns out to have its own inefficiencies when searching for e-mail messages later.
It seems counterintuitive, but searching for older e-mail correspondence is often easier to do when using a single chronological file coupled with a search function, because it’s just one search instead of potentially many.
- Unsubscribing – as best as possible (even with the shortcomings of attempting to do so)
- Keeping my settings so that e-mail messages download every 20 minutes instead of right away
- Aside from important client messages, “batch-processing” e-mails just four times each business day: early morning, late morning, mid-afternoon, and end-of-day
Adopting these practices makes it easier for me to concentrate on my other work tasks, keeping those Job 1 and relegating e-mail management to being “ornaments on the tree” rather than the tree itself.
If other readers use particular e-mail management techniques and tactics that are effective for them, let’s hear about them. Please share your thoughts below.