Successful business woman working at the officeJon Baker wonders whether emails save you thousands of pounds, or waste hundreds of hours?

Every large company we have ever helped with productivity and time management have delegates moaning about emails. Business owners across the country, whether the company is large, or small all comment on emails, whether that’s good – or bad! Generally it’s how they soak up time, and prevent them from doing things.

Sometimes it’s even worse; one team I was working with recently had become convinced that emails were what their job is, and selling things on the phone are a distraction!!!

Is the problem going away on it’s own?
The other day I was listening to a great presentation by a social media expert; he shared some research showing that the younger generation are sending less emails and use social media more. One benefit of that is cutting the communication to 140 characters; for file sharing they use collaborative file sharing websites. Perhaps email is simply becoming an out of date technology?

Other than feeling old it set me thinking about how, only 12 years, or so, ago email was something wondrous which saved time and solved all sorts of problems. We didn’t get stacks of paper in the post, we didn’t lose things in the post etc etc etc.

If you didn’t email files for people to review and simply agreed that you’d use a file sharing system, work collaboratively, and people could check things when they needed to, would this improve things for you?

Four ideas to save email time.

Improving your email habits can drastically increase your productivity. Any new approach takes focus and practice, but, after a while, they will become habits that support you.

1:- Check email only at scheduled times for a specified amount of time. Twice a day for 10-15 minutes works well. Don’t have outlook synchronise, or unplug it until the next scheduled time. While you’re adjusting your outlook settings, get rid of the distracting little flag that comes up when you’re working in another system which says “You’ve got email”.

2:- Unsubscribe, although be wary of doing so if it’s simply going tell a spamming agency that they’ve found a real address. Make sure you receive only the things you really want to – and do – read.

3:- Reduce the amount of copied email (i.e., cc’d from colleagues) to only that which is essential. Do you really need to have lots of copy emails are you simply becoming a control freak, or don’t you trust them?

4:- “Slash and burn” on your first pass through your inbox. Use the
second pass for replies and other follow-up actions.

Another modern variation.

New technology such as the i-phone, blackberry etc. simply moves the problem from your PC to your pocket; or does it?

Do you find that these devices help productivity by making better use of your time, or waste your resource because it’s harder to escape?

Feel free to share your tips for better use of mobile email technologies.

Jon BakerJon Baker is a Business Coach, Sales Trainer and Experienced Public Speaker who specialises in working with partners and potential partners from small firms – typically up to 10 partner practices. He helps the professionals with 5 to 50 staff improve their performance and grow their firm, sustainably, profitably and whilst enjoying the experience.