Businesses play a losing game of catch-up when it comes to email correspondence. That’s a major cause of frustration and lost productivity. The average professional devotes about 25 percent of each work day to email. The constant chore typically takes two and a half hours. The good news is that doing it with greater efficiency is a wonderful opportunity to maximize performance. Just take advantage of five of the most effective strategies to instantly increase daily productivity.
Apply an Action to Each Email
One of the best ways to gain the upper hand is to take action in one of four distinct ways. Each time an email is received, either 1) delete it, 2) reply to it, 3) delegate it and immediately forward it to that delegated person, or 4) archive it to a folder to review and respond later. But don’t let any emails linger, unread or not acted upon. They simply pile up to make acting on them more time consuming.
Keep it Succinct
When writing an email, keep it simple and to a single paragraph, otherwise it turns into a reading assignment. If it happens to be a necessary reading assignment, make the email itself only 2-3 sentences long and attach a document containing the longer content that needs to be read and reviewed. Then the recipient can download it to deal with later, versus making that lengthy task part of email management.
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Don’t Email When It’s ASAP
If communication is urgent, email is not optimal. Use an internal messaging app or pick up the phone. In far less time than it takes to compose and send an email and then read the response, most urgent questions can be answered face to face or on the phone. Keep in mind that when use of email is minimized, the number of emails received each day are also minimized. That solves one of the fundamental challenges related to inefficient email correspondence.
Craft Effective Subject Lines
Pay attention to subject line usage to help prioritize and communicate. In a subject line it’s possible to say a lot, if it is crafted effectively. If it’s possible to say what needs to be said in a sentence, then put a short sentence in the subject line. Both the sender and the recipient will see at a glance what it’s all about, without having to even open the email.
Timing is Everything
Experts recommend checking email at fixed and scheduled intervals, like once per hour versus every 15 minutes. One reason, as reported by Business Insider, is that checking email disrupts productivity. Researchers discovered that it only takes the average person six seconds to check an email. But it can take almost half an hour to get back to a state of full productivity after that few seconds of interruption. Emails take readers of email out of their peak performance zone. Stay in the zone and check email later, to be more productive.
Many CEOs set aside an hour each morning to attack their email, so it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the day. They also avoid email in the evening, for a better night’s sleep. After all, everyone is more productive when well rested.