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13 Mar

Nine ways to reduce the inflow of e-mails

Date: 2014-03-13 10:08 Comments: 0 st

The amount of e-mails you receive in a day can sometimes be daunting. For some of us they arrive in greater numbers than we are able to with ease cope with.

The e-mail undoubtedly attracts our attention, tends to make us feel stressed and compete with the to-do-list for our focus (and also tends to win against it).

It is easy to feel that we have no control over this constant inflow and that we simply have to practice processing the e-mails faster. 

But, there are several things we can do to reduce the inflow.

This is what we can do
Here are nine ideas of what we can do to reduce and decrease the number of e-mails we receive:

  1. Be specific in how you phrase your own correspondence
    • Avoid verbs such as “fix”, “solve”, “do”, “deal with” and such.
    • Be as specific as you can when referring to times and dates. Suggest both a date and a time as early as possible in a correspondence concerning for instance a lunch-date.

  2. Add as few receivers as possible for the same e-mail and only cc: messages if it is an emergency. With fewer recipients there are fewer people who can respond to your e-mail. There will also be fewer participants in a possible discussion over e-mail that might be the result of the message you sent.

  3. Do not send so many e-mails yourself. When you are about to e-mail someone, ask yourself: “Could I possibly ask this in another context when we meet anyway, instead of e-mailing now?”

  4. Set a rule for yourself that you will try to primarily call the person you wish to communicate with and if this is not possible, e-mail (provided that you do not need to attach a document or a link).

  5. Unsubscribe from mailing-lists that send newsletters you do not read anyway.

  6. Avoid writing messages such as “Have a nice weekend”, since you will undoubtedly receive a reply saying “You too!”. (Sure, it is nice, but if we are striving to have less inflow, this is yet another e-mail we can do without.)

  7. Implement an “internal-Twitter”-tool such as Yammer at your company. Allow this Twitter-tool to replace all the informational e-mails which are not crucially important, but only contain information that “can be good to know”. Approach this tool with the attitude that you do not have to be up to date with it at all times. You can for instance leave it open at the bottom of the screen and then read whenever it is convenient.

  8. Use as few question marks as possible in your e-mails. When you are about to end a sentence with a question mark, ask yourself if you can rephrase so that it becomes more of a statement than a question. The fewer questions you ask, the fewer answers you will receive.

  9. Use services such as when you need to find a meeting-time with people outside of your company. Each participant can easily indicate when they are available, from which the service will suggest possible meeting-times. This will rid you of long and cumbersome e-mail-conversations along the lines of “Can you meet up on Tuesday afternoon?” “No, but how is Wednesday?” “Not a good time, I’m busy. How about next week?” ”Sounds better”. ”Ok, are you free after lunch on Thursday?” “No, we have a board-meeting then, but I could make time in the morning.” “I have a phone-conference with someone in France then. Friday?” et c...

Less flow through the e-mail inbox gives more “flow” elsewhere
If you reduce the flow of e-mails you will have more time to spend on other things than your e-mails. The risk of getting stuck processing emails and treating your inbox as a to-do-list which might make you forget what is on your actual list, decreases. Besides, you will enjoy the pleasure of having an empty inbox.

What is your method?
Can you think of other ways of reducing the amount of emails that flow into our inboxe on a daily basis? A penny for your thoughts...

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