Despite the rise of communication services like Slack and Zendesk, email is still heavily relied upon for most businesses. Unfortunately, it also continues to be a major destroyer of productivity and efficiency. Countless studies and articles have been published acknowledging this fact. Here are just a few:
How is it that something originally meant to help instant communication and productivity do the exact opposite? Maybe it’s not that email has changed, but our behavior instead. It could be that email is what we know to use, but it doesn’t fit into how we communicate today.
How Email Kills Productivity in the Workplace
Here’s my quick list of how email destroys everyone’s day.
- Replying all when it’s completely unnecessary
- Emails that just say, “Okay” or “Thanks”
- Writing a book and expecting a reply just as long
- Expectations to constantly check your inbox
- Sending an email that is better suited as a phone or video call (see point about writing a book)
Quick Fixes to Fight Back
I’m a big fan of responding within the medium that you were originally contacted. If you call me, I’ll call you back, and if you email me then I’d prefer to email you back too. However, there are some instances that require a little more effort (but will save you time and your sanity in the end).
- Request “Read” receipts so that people don’t reply back “Okay”
- If someone writes you a book, reply with a request to schedule a call or video chat
- Stop sending lengthy emails yourself (we’re all guilty)
- Resist the urge to reply all
- You don’t always need to reply to an email
Long Term Email Fixes
Email is still a great way for quick communication and sharing of files (even that is fading away). Many companies are already ditching email altogether, which is something we hope to do in the near future. The big question to ask is whether email can evolve with our present and future behavior or not.
As we begin to move closer to immediate and personal responses, I’m leaning towards more of a Slack and video chat world. Currently, I’m already leaning towards video chats (Google Hangouts mostly) because I know that I’m fighting for the attention of others. A quick video call is a great way to ensure that all parties are engaged and we’re not wasting each others time.
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