Email timeout: A four-step guide to curbing email addiction at work

How many times have you left your office at the end of the day feeling like you just spent the entire day sending, responding to and managing email? And, to add to that feeling, your real “to-do” list is still there – not done? For me, it’s too many days to count. The number of emails one receives is dependent upon clients, internal staff size, client stories, newsletters, junk mail, etc. The amount of time we spend focused on email is where an important question lies: how much of my productivity, results-based work and daily job satisfaction is “lost” in the shuffle of sorting emails?

Although the inbox has become a central hub of workflow, adjustments to the number of emails coming in can be made. For example, it’s time to say ‘adios’ to those Google Alerts you set up for clients you haven’t worked with in seven months. Below are a few more suggestions I’d like to share with you to help curb email addiction and encourage efficient management of your inbox.

1. If you want to receive fewer emails, send fewer emails.
This is the golden rule of email management: Send less of it. The more you send, the more responses will hit your inbox each day.

2. Think before responding.
You may want to hit ‘reply’ as soon as you see an email, but take a step back and see if your reply will have any relevancy to the question or information sent. Instead of just sending ‘thank you,’ try to see if you need additional information or have other information to mention back to the sender. You’ll be surprised how many emails don’t really need a response.

3. Communicate over the phone.
A five-minute phone call with a client can be worth 20 emails back and forth. Sometimes, words get lost in emails (along with tone), and it’s easier to explain thoughts in more detail in a short phone call. Real conversations are worth it!

4. Bundle your responses.
No one likes receiving a ton of one-off emails with partial information throughout the day. Try to keep emails comprehensive and complete as possible. One email equals one response. Six emails equal six responses. Keep it closer to one email unless it’s an urgent news release or hard deadline. As you know, sometimes this is inevitable.

As your inbox slims down, you should have more time to focus on hard-hitting deadlines and pitching your client stories… and all the other projects you get pulled into. Don’t forget to unsubscribe to emails that have no meaning to your clients, job or have three or more sent in one day.

Have a question about emails or want to add insight into effective email management? Comment below!