Emails, in their relatively short lifespan, have become the most important method of communication in many workplaces, even more so than the original method, i.e. talking to someone. Not only do they dominate communication, they also make up one of the single biggest working actions that many people do in their day. Results from a survey by McKinsey and Company, show that the average office worker spends nearly 30% of their working week reading and responding to emails.
However necessary it might be felt that these emails are, there’s no denying that it’s a huge amount of time to be spent on one task which isn’t even the main focus of one’s role. For project managers, where communication is actually one of their core job specs, email management becomes even more important.
Left unchecked, poor email management can cost far too much time and drain energy and momentum from a project. If you feel this might be happening to you, here are some email management tips to try and get your email habit under control.
- Turn off notifications
One of the biggest problems with emails is that, apart from taking time away from other work, the notifications themselves distract the brain. It is the same problem with social media messages, that little ping triggers a curiosity reflex in the brain. We know that the email is most likely mundane and work related but our brains also tell us that it is possibly something hugely exciting and it won’t be satisfied until the email is checked. Turning off all notifications helps your brain to keep on track.
- Set specific time periods for emails
Another of the best email management tips is to limit email usage to set periods of time during the day, as a kind of down-time. For example, the 3-21-0 rule would see you limit checking your email to 3 times a day, for 21 minutes each, trying to get your inbox down to 0.
- Make subjects clear
An easy method of cutting time wastage on emails is to institute a policy where as much information as possible is in the subject line. For example: “Henderson Account, Login Denied, Urgent” tells you that the email needs to be opened and addressed as soon as possible, whereas “Henderson Account, Monthly Feedback, NRN” lets you know that the email is more of a courtesy and can be left for another time (NRN stands for “not right now”).
- Use a set email structure
A major issue with emails is that they can go on too long and make it difficult to find out what the real point is. By creating a set email structure, to be used by the whole team or organization, everyone knows what actions have to be taken, by when, and who’s responsible. Other details can be filled in at the bottom but the structure will give all the important information first so it can be understood at a glance.
If you find that emails and communication with your team in general is taking too long, it’s probably time to start using more effective project management software. With Clarizen your team will be able to communicate and access important information quicker and allow remote task updates in real-time.