What would you do if you had 45,000 unread emails in your inbox?
That’s what one of Richard McBarnet’s clients was faced with - no wonder the client asked for help.
At his IoD Herts Talk round table meeting, Richard, who’s the MD of IT managed services provider Lumina Technologies, turned his attention to the elephant in the room when it comes to computers - an untamed inbox.
He presented the results of research showing that, on average, we spend 13 hours a week reading and responding to emails, which equates to 650 hours a year… but only around 38% of those emails are important to our business.
Emails are stressful and addictive
There is a huge temptation to check an email as soon as the notification appears on your screen. It becomes almost an addiction and has been proven to reduce our ability to focus on a task and increase our stress levels.
We’re not only losing those 403 hours’ worth of productivity annually on reading unnecessary emails, but every time we check our emails, we’re losing even more time in terms of turning our attention back to the task in hand - on average, it takes 64 seconds to refocus on what you were doing before you decided to check your email.
Richard then quoted the example of Thierry Breton, the CEO of Atos Origin who, in 2011, made a declaration that his company would become a zero-email company within three years. Whilst he couldn’t quite reach his original target, by 2014, the overall number of emails used by the company had been cut by 60%, and their operating margin increased from 6.5% to 7.5%.
As Richard said, "You control your email. Do not let it control you." His first suggestion was to stop being a slave to looking at every email as soon as it’s received by turning off your notifications, or better still, turning off Outlook.
Next, you can put filters and flags on your emails to prioritise them and sort them by sender. Try colour-coding those sent by VIPs, those you’ve been copied in on so you can instantly tell which ones are important and those which are for information.
When you do look at your emails, try and deal with them in batches and try to keep the number of unread emails below 30, otherwise you risk becoming overwhelmed.
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