Better manage your email and communication practices and take back control of your time
Keeping up with communication has become a full-time job, the problem isn’t just that we’re receiving more emails than ever (even though we are). It’s that we feed the beast by answering every email, checking our inboxes at all hours, and not setting expectations and boundaries around our email time.
But every sent email has a cost in both time and attention.
— Rescue Time
Here are a few scary email statistics to illustrate this point:
- 132 billion business emails are sent every day
- 84% of people keep their inboxes open all day long
- 70% of emails are opened within 6 seconds of receiving them
- Most people check their email and chat apps every 6 minutes or less
(Sources: Loughborough University and THE RADICATI GROUP, INC. )
What can you do to stem the flow for yourself and your team?
RESET YOUR NOTIFICATIONS.
It’s impossible to handle all of the incoming messages and do your core work, so adjust your notification settings to something more reasonable.
CHECK YOUR INBOX A MAX OF 3 TIMES PER DAY.
Checking your inbox can be an addictive habit. A study from the University of British Columbia says there is a limit to how many times you should check your email per day. That number is three.
RESET NORMS AROUND COMMUNICATION FREQUENCY.
As Adam Grant writes in Harvard Business Review: “Resetting norms regarding when and how to initiate e-mail requests or meeting invitations can free up a great deal of wasted time.” Just being aware of the time debt you are creating for yourself and others through constant communication and messaging can create a powerful shift.
Giving others the autonomy to make decisions reduces time debt for everyone. When you trust your people and give them autonomy they are more likely to take responsibility for the task in hand. Having sound processes in place and making sure everyone understands them means your team are confident in their abilities to execute correctly and come to you less often.
CREATE A PLAYBOOK OF FAQS AND ONBOARD RESPONSES.
Outline frequently asked questions when it comes to receiving or responding to communication and document it for easy reference. So you’re able to respond to incoming requests from outside the business in a thoughtful, polite way without needing to carefully craft a response each time (or saying yes to things you shouldn’t be taking on) create some canned responses that you and your team can tweak and edit as needed to fit the specific occasion.