Paralegals-Feeling Buried Alive? Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload

Practice Management Advice from an Expert
2 billion email users worldwide send 294 billion emails daily; that works out to 2.8 million per second. Everyone will agree that they are sending and receiving their “fair” share; some more than others. But what does that mean in concrete terms?
Buried Alive? Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload
Article written by Tracy Parks, Principal and founder of Simplicated, LLC. She is a productivity consultant; coach, speaker and trainer, helping businesses and professionals streamline management of email, tasks information and meetings and optimize workflow practices.

The average business professional will spend about 3 hours each day processing email, reading and writing about 30,000 emails each year.
Indeed some of us feel buried alive.

Recently a client of mine, CEO of a 300+ organization shared he had “solved his email problem”, and, of course, I replied “tell me more”. He shared that during a 30 day trip abroad he asked his administrative assistant to only allow “truly pertinent” email to flow his direction. Upon his return, 400+ emails that did not move his way during the month remained in his inbox. He removed those from the inbox and placed them in a folder. Sixty days later he had the time to review these messages, sorting them by sender. He noted there were one or two messages that contained information of pertinence, but, none that truly had bearing on his work or the job at hand in a critical way; “nothing had fallen through the cracks”.

I’m not suggesting that you ignore messages that come your way, and, the majority of us don’t have the support of a top notch admin that can “gate-keep” our inbox. I am suggesting a few tips to help master email overload:
First and foremost, keep in mind that every message in your inbox reflects some other person’s priorities and request for your time, but not necessarily your priorities. If you use the inbox as your task/priority list, you really are abdicating control to the initiators of email.
Why not jump back into the driver’s seat?

8 Best Practices for Processing Email:
  1. Start your day by checking your calendar and task list first; then dedicate the first 90 minutes of the day to your highest priority work.

  2. Process email 3-4 times per day with the intention of doing one of four things: filing the message for later reference, acting on the message if you can respond in two minutes or less, creating a next action for messages taking longer than a 2 minute response, and tossing the rest. Remember this approach as File, Act, and Toss; use it to process each and every incoming message.

  3. Email discipline requires an intuitive, manageable folder structure for filing messages, a dependable task system for managing tasks and priorities, and, the ability to ruthlessly toss the unnecessary. If you lack any of the above, I unabashedly suggest you connect with a productivity coach.

  4. Leverage the power of whatever email program you use. Learn techniques which allow you to instantly convert emails to tasks, appointments or contacts, to color code messages by sender, to filter high noise low value email messages into a folder that will by-pass your inbox and you can review later (think “CC’s, newsletters etc.). 

  5. Send email that is clear, concise and actionable. The quality of email you send has significant bearing on the quantity of email you receive. A long winded monologue of text means your message is likely to be overlooked; the reader will miss the action or initiate another email in your direction to ask for clarification. Craft an email using bullets, formatting and placing the “action” upfront. If it takes more than three minutes to read the message you are about to send; streamline the message.

  6. Send less email and you will receive less email. For every 5 emails you jettison into cyber space, you will receive 3 responses; much like a boom a- rang. Statistically if you eliminate 1 out of every 5 outgoing messages, you will experience a 10% reduction in incoming email volume. A little self-management is in order. Does everyone in your organization need to be included in the announcement that your left over birthday cake is in the 4th floor break room? How often do you default to replying to all? What about those “trivial” thank you messages, jokes and daily words of wisdom?

  7. Strengthen the subject line as it should be the headline of your communication and therefore should summarize the content to follow. Studies indicate that if you start by creating a clear subject line, the body of your message will be more concise.

  8. Utilize the correct communication tool and avoid the default to email. Pick up the phone, walk down the hall, or coordinate a conference call. Using email for a group discussion or in an attempt to reach consensus is a “time vampire”.

Be encouraged; email can be managed more effectively!
Yes, it will require some self-management.
Even a cultural shift in email is possible, and, again coaching, training and discussion within your team or organization is the starting point. The time you invest will pay for itself within weeks if not within a few days’.
The tips in this article can be implemented immediately, choose one or two and integrate them into your daily routine today!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...