One thing we can all agree on is that inbox overload is fatal to productivity in the workplace. According to a study by IBM Australia, "nearly half of Australian office workers find irrelevant and unanswered emails are a key contributor to workplace stress....Australian workers are looking for alternative ways to work more productively, and to find tools that can help alleviate workplace stress."
Reducing inbox overload requires a two pronged attack: changing how messages arrive and changing how you send emails. Surprisingly, sending messages more efficiently will reduce the number of irrelevant responses you receive. If you waste too much time trying to tame your inbox, here are four tried and true techniques that will carve out more time in a busy schedule and get more work out of the company email.
1. Do less work and get more out of it.
Though it sounds counter-intuitive, you get more done by checking your email less. The secret is to filter out the noise in your inbox. First of all, turn off the notification on all new messages. Write a rule that will select out important messages by keyword or by sender, and move those messages to a new folder. Assign new message notification on that folder only. It may take a little time to get the mix just right. When you do, the time you save will more than make up for it.
2. Save time using key email features.
Two rarely used features of most email services can save a whopping load of time over the long run. Stop hitting “Send to All”, as people will start ignoring all emails from you. Instead, create distribution lists for internal or external business partners. When you receive an email from someone new, add them to your contacts. The contact file can be downloaded and added to other databases for sales prospecting or follow-ups.
3. Breathe before you send.
How much time, apologies, and corrections could you save by just a final review of the message before it is sent out? The best way to do this is to not fill in the To: field until your final proof. Worst case, you end up saving a folder full of drafts and preventing some serious miscommunications.
4. Fax via email.
Thanks to the latest technological advancements, it is now possible to send faxes directly from your email. Don't waste time going back to the office to fax because a mobile email app can be your own personal fax service. Files up to 1 GB, much larger than an email attachment, can be sent from anywhere and without waiting for the fax machine to clear up.