Although it’s a relatively new addition to the daily lives of people around the globe, email has already leapfrogged to the forefront of how we communicate routinely. In fact, it is so prevalent that we send and receive about 200 billion emails—every day. That’s a huge number, and that huge number means it also takes a huge amount of time for us to deal with emails—about 30 percent of the work day.
But while email is essential, for many of us it also has lost a bit of its luster. That’s because it can quickly spiral out of control, to an overflowing inbox that has no sense of order, to questions that are difficult to prioritize, to emails that are hard to even attend to. And it often threatens to overtake what could be simple face-to-face communications at work.
There are ways to stop the email madness, however. For starters—that face-to-face communication? You can easily go back to it. Simply walk over to someone’s desk and get answers (or ask questions) and save yourself one more email in and out (and often back and forth). If that won’t work because you have a very large or remote-based work structure, think about using an instant messaging system so that quick to-dos become quickly done.
And also think about what you can do to keep on top of your email inbox. Take a day—like a spring cleaning email day—and get your messages down to about 20. That’s a manageable number that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Get off lists that you don’t need to be on. Cut down on the junk, and you’ll be surprised how much less email you actually get.
What else works for managing email? This graphic can help you figure it out.