Reducing email overload – more suggestions

It seems that every day there are more suggestions on how to reduce ’email overload’, here’s some that caught our eye.

Bain & Company analyzed their staffs use of Microsoft Outlook and similar applications:

  • Senior executives receive more than 200 emails each day
  • A typical frontline supervisor spends about eight hours a week managing emails
  • Of those eight hours:
    • 25% of which should never have been sent to that staffer in the first place,
    • Another 25% which the staffer shouldn’t respond to.

Short meetings

A somewhat counterintuitive suggestion from Inc.com – short face-to-face meetings.

Whenever an issue needs people to share their views or advice, or discuss a solution, hold a super-short meeting in 10, 15 or, at most, 30 minutes.”

The meetings can be old-fashioned ‘people physically in one room’ events or discussions using Skype Group calls or other audio/video conferencing systems.

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In our experience, email or IM is good for specific questions or points.  Broader discussions of style or approach (brainstorming or explaining wider corporate decision) are better done face-to-face.  Once everyone has discussed the general approach, the gory details can be sorted out via email or instant messaging.

Disable Reply All

In some companies, they customize the Outlook ribbon to remove the ‘Reply All’ option.

Reply All is believed to be overused, resulting in many staff getting messages they have little or no involvement in.

The Harvard Business Review reports that  “Reply All being so easy to use costs the average frontline supervisor more than 30 minutes a week in processing unnecessary e-communications.”

Analyze email use

In the Harvard Business Review, one writer suggests provide real-time information to leaders regarding organizational load, defined as the total hours devoted to reading and responding to emails originating from each executive“.

In other words, send each manager an email telling them how much time other people spend reading their emails.   Not sure if that will help or just add another email to the Inbox.