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Beat information overload

Published on Oct 6, 2008

Are you spinning your wheels on email?

Email now consumes 30-40% of the average professional’s day. Remarkably, a third of this time is thought to be wasted.

More than 80% of all professionals complain that colleagues often send them too much email. The good news? There is a simple road map to improved productivity.

1. Get your top senders all on the same page

According to extensive research conducted by Cohesive Knowledge Solutions, creators of the Info-Excellence Seminar, 60% of the email you receive is probably coming from the same 8 people. This means you can make a significant dent in the volume everybody in your workgroup is trying to manage simply by establishing some team norms around how, why and when email is to be used.

2. Ban low-value email

Email is only useful if it is clear, concise and actionable. People are receiving so many emails per day that they no longer read the messages – they scan them. Thus, if you want your requested action to be taken or your input to be part of the picture, you must make the point of your message crystal clear – right in your subject line. Key background points should be made in easy-to-digest chunks, ideally using bullet points or numbers to call out key messages.

3. Send less – Get less

Email is easy to send in large quantities (just count your Sent Items for the last few days to see what I mean), but this makes it hard on everybody to try and process hundred of emails effectively in a day.

One quick way to start receiving less email is to stop sending so much of it yourself! Ask yourself whether an alternate communication channel such as the telephone or a stand-up meeting might get the job done better, and in less time. If the issue is sensitive or requires discussion, it’s best to use your voice instead of your fingers to communicate!

Kristin Lowe is the Founder of Organising Solutions

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