While all of us know that e-mail is the communications method of choice for much of Corporate Earth, we also know that, perhaps next to meetings, e-mail is the biggest time wasting tool on the planet. There are countless articles out there that tell us tips on managing our e-mail, including this great one from jungglezine called “The E-Mail Undertow” offering eight tips for managing e-mail.
But the productivity truth to the matter is that e-mail takes away precious time for you to be productive on the things that help you be of value at work. The more time you spend processing e-mail, the less time you have to complete your tasks.
People don’t like the lost time, either:
In surveys of more than 10,000 employees at 70 companies nationwide, Mike Song, CEO of Cohesive Knowledge Solutions, has found that e-mail overload causes workers enormous stress and frustration. “Plowing through two-and-a-half hours of e-mail before you sit down to do a new business proposal takes all the fun out of work,” says Song, co-author of The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your Email Before It Manages You. “People feel like they’re stuck in the mud–or spinning like a hamster on a wheel–because they’re spending a quarter to one-third of their day keeping their inbox in a manageable state.”
Whether it is e-mail tips found in articles, using a methodology such as Getting Things Done, or e-mail tools like my favorite ClearContext, managing your e-mail requires focus and thought. Managing e-mail is not easy, especially when one needs e-mail for parts of your work.
Right now, e-mail is a necessary tool. Perhaps a necessary evil. And my favorite line about e-mail: “The problem with e-mail is, we think we’re good at it.”