E-mail Trumps Productivity

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Nov 13

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.”


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.

  • Spot on post.

    I am often out of the office and cannot respond to email. It’s amazing the company still continues without me responding!

    Seriously, try this – just 1 day a week do not read any emails. You will be amazed how many of them just ‘go away’ or just get ‘resolved’. And, don’t send any either.


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