As with every other productivity tool, what really matters with email is how you use it. If email is draining your work productivity, it’s probably because you’re doing one or more of these:
you make it the aim of your workday to achieve Zero-Inbox status.
Let’s face it: the more email you send, the more you’ll receive. Set aside some time daily to respond to selective emails that are urgent and important. Mark the rest for
later follow up.
you believe email is real-time.
It isn’t. And doesn’t need to be instantly responded to. If you need
(and only if you need!)
to initiate a real-time conversation, use IM, or make a phone call. Or even better, make it a face-to-face conversation, if that’s possible.
you believe in the ‘a folder for every email and every email into a folder’ rule.
Email OCD? If you’re spending a lot of time just moving your mail into folders, you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent on other important tasks. Instead,
make automated rules for emails that absolutely must be organized into folders. Leave the rest in your inbox.
you need to hunt for emails manually, one folder at a time.
Every time you have to look for that all-important email that suddenly needs to be referred to,
use an advanced search feature to fish it out. Not only will this save you search time, it will minimize your dependency on folder-organization too (see the point above)
you use the ‘reply-all’ function for every email.
Before you use ‘reply-all’ and reply to everyone who is marked on an email, think about whether your reply will be relevant and / useful for all the intended recipients. If not, mark the email to only those who will benefit from reading it. It’s good email etiquette and saves everybody (including you!) a whole lot of time.
you use email for debates and discussions.
A more productive way to encourage ideas, discussions and brainstorms within your team(s) and / customers is to use an internal discussion forum. At Zoho, we use
Zoho Discussions for all such “discussions”.
you only send / check your email at the desk.
Being able to check email on your mobile device is a necessary evil. You can spend time outside your office, meeting your customers and prospects, and yet, still find time to
check email while you’re on the move. Remember to do this judiciously though, for not all email needs to be read / responded to.
you check email during face-to face / telephonic interactions with people.
Avoid doing this at all costs. For one, it’s rude. Also, you miss out on important conversations and the chance to make an impact on your audience.
Are there any other email-productivity-killing-habits that you can add to this list? Which email habit are you going to change today?