Case of the overflowing inbox? Before you hit reply, consider picking up the phone: The vast majority of work emails you send and receive are unneces...
Before you hit reply, consider picking up the phone: The vast majority of work emails you send and receive are unnecessary or inefficient—and suck up both your time and your employer’s money, finds a new study from the University of Glasgow.
After tracking the email habits of seven company executives, researchers determined 80 percent of the messages sent were wasteful—and would have been better communicated via a phone call or face-to-face conversation. But when the execs cut back on their emailing by half, their employees followed suit without being told, and the company gained an estimated 10,400 employee hours.
Email prevents deep focus by buzzing you with constant interruptions, explains study contributor Andrew Killick, of Modeuro Consulting. Even if you only pause momentarily to make sure the new messages aren’t urgent, your attention is pulled away from your work tasks, which leads to errors and wasted time, Killick says. And the same 30-second in-person conversation can require a dozen emails, which take time to write and edit and often end up looping in other employees or coworkers who don’t really need to be involved, adds study author Karen Renaud, Ph.D.
Even if you’re not the head honcho, Killick says you can improve your productivity with three simple email tweaks:
The fewer emails you send, the fewer you’ll receive. Your coworkers respond to your habits. So if you bomb their inboxes, they’ll bomb yours back. Ease up, and they’ll get the message—even though you didn’t send one.
Increase reply time. The longer you take to respond to emails, the emptier your inbox will be. Up your response time to several hours, and people will start calling instead of emailing you. (Or they’ll figure it out on their own.)
Avoid email conversations. Anything that resembles a chat or requires several rounds of back-and-forth should occur over the phone or in person.
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