As a busy executive, what is the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up? Before even getting out of bed, you are likely checking your emails to get a head start. Once you finally arrive at work, another dozen emails are likely already filling up your inbox, forcing you to dive in before your full day of meetings and projects unfolds. While email has long been a staple of the modern workplace, just how much time in your workday is wasted due to this form of technology?
The average employee spends around 40 percent of their workweek handling internal emails that add no significant value to a business, according to independent research by Atos Origin. Andrew Killick, founder of Modeuro Consulting, even told Fast Company that 80 percent of email may be a complete waste. Instead of focusing your attention on essential assignments and projects, you may be wasting time hunting down information in extended email chains or sending emails that could easily be replaced with a short face-to-face conversation.
Should you really ditch email?
Since the unveiling of Slack and other collaborative messaging software, many have predicted the demise of email in favor of these time-saving platforms. And Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, one of the world’s largest IT companies, sought to eliminate email entirely. In doing so, the organization was able to reduce email by 64 percent.
However, email has remained very sticky at the vast majority of organizations. While collaborative software tools offer many benefits – from a consolidated record of communication to easy access – they are unlikely to displace email any time soon, especially for communications with customers and partners.
What if you still need to use email?
There are a few steps you can take to make email less of a burden for you and your team.
First, Killick recommends that executives “think twice” before sending any email. While simple, when a company implemented this initiative, it saw a 54 percent drop in emails sent by its leadership team, where even lower-level employees sent 64 percent less emails as well. Instead, executives are encouraged to pick up the phone or walk down the hall whenever they can. Executives also can unsubscribe from nonessential newsletters, only CC or forward to others when absolutely necessary and only check their inbox at select times to stay productive, without having to ditch email completely.
Another timesaving strategy is to avoid over-organizing your emails. According to one academic paper, people who spend too much time organizing their emails in folders, actually end up wasting time (they don’t benefit from reduced time spent retrieving emails).
The key is to think strategically about how you use your time (and your team’s). If you could use an opportunity to pull up from the day-to-day and think strategically about how to be most effective, join us at ExecConnect on Oct. 2-3 in New York City.