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Coping With Email Overload

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Managing email is always a good topic of conversation and one that is revisited often on The Methodology Blog. Reason being: it’s universally one of the greatest time suckers we all face!

If you’re an avid follower of The Methodology Blog, then you surely know, we take email seriously. So much so, that AccelaWork’s very own founder and principal, Robby Slaughter, launched his newest book The Battle For Your Inbox in December 2014. Since our company’s start, email management has always been a passion of ours–as can be seen through blog posts, articles, educational events and speaking engagements. In fact, we’ve openly discussed the horrible truth about email productivity in the past. And this is our stance:

Here’s the terrible secret to the email productivity crisis. Reducing the amount of email—or getting of email entirely—will only make the problem worse.

That’s because we all have a need to communicate, we are just using the available channels inefficiently. It’s easy to write an email (just type, from anywhere) and easy to read it (just scroll, from anywhere), so we don’t take any effort to respect the medium.

We don’t try to use email intelligently or write emails in a way that’s respectful to our audience. Instead, we just dump our thoughts onto the screen and scramble to deal with the next message.

email overload

© Flickr user BuzzFarmers

Frances Booth, Forbes contributor, has five suggestions for coping with email overload. They are listed below with some of our added comments.

Don’t answer when you’re overwhelmed

Whatever the request, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, delay your response. In this state, if you reply immediately, you risk making a bad decision, as your judgement will tend to be poor. Once you take a step back, you’ll regain perspective, and give yourself time to think. Your response is also likely to be more considered, clearer and stronger.

    As a whole, AccelaWork’s policies on email communication is extremely productive. We make a point not to REPLY to an email the minute it is sent to us. Doing so makes the medium a text messaging frenzy. Instead, our responses are thoughtful and timely; containing the best techniques possible to maintain its usefulness as a communication tool. Besides, if an email is *critical* and in need of an immediate response, perhaps the person sending it should think twice about the most effective way to receive quick responses. Make them wait.

Delete and unsubscribe

Make good use of the delete key. You don’t have to read everything. You should also regularly unsubscribe to any lists that you no longer need, or that you never signed up for in the first place.

Remember it wasn’t always so

Put email in perspective, and get up from your desk and go and talk to someone instead. Sometimes it’s a welcome change to phone someone, or go and speak to someone in person, and in fact, it can resolve an issue more fully and efficiently.

    Face to face communication certainly has its benefits. But, be considerate of another person’s time. Rather than walking to their workspace unannounced and unnecessarily interrupting workflow, send them an invitation for a quick meeting. To ensure productivity, send a small agenda so they can be prepared with any pertinent information.

Don’t let everything live in your inbox

Use folders to siphon off emails into organised ‘boxes’ that you can refer back to and easily find.

    Maintaining organization is key to staying productive in all that you do–including email. Get rid of unnecessary messages and stay on top of filing the important ones. Our advice: schedule a small amount of time everyday for email maintenance. You’ll be thankful you did.

Change folders every 6 months

If we don’t change our folders, then we tend to try and make pieces of work fit our filing system, rather than the filing system fitting the work (this also applies to general document filing).

If you are implementing much (or all) of the above techniques and are still having trouble with managing email, perhaps it’s time to reach out to a productivity consultant. AccelaWork’s experts are here and ready to assist you in all your workflow improvement endeavors!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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