Don't Let E-mail Zap Productivity

The typical at-desk employee in the workplace loses 2.1 hours of productivity every day to interruptions and distractions, reports Basex, an IT research and consulting firm.

Those interruptions come from e-mail alerts, instant messages, cell phones and handheld devices that constantly buzz.

The typical employee also checks e-mail 50 times a day.  Each time, the employee gets sidetracked, and their attention span suffers.  Productivity drops.  Thinking time decreases.

As a leader in the workplace, work with your employees to manage e-mails and to lessen daily interruptions.  Try these techniques:
  1. Turn off all visual and sound alerts that announce new e-mail.
  2. Check e-mail at designated times during the day.  Attempt to not check e-mail more often than every 45 minutes.
  3. Whenever possible, communicate by phone or face-to-face.  This can actually save time and helps to build relationships, which suffer when e-mail is a workplace's predominant mode of communication.
  4. Resist using the reply-all function.
  5. Don't send e-mails to simply say "Thanks."
  6. Let co-workers know in advance that you reply to non-urgent messages within a day's time.  Make responding to your external customers and clients your priority when responding.
  7. When sending a message be concise and to the point from the very beginningPreempt questions in your original e-mail.
  8. Don't use the request delivery confirmation and read receipt options.
  9. Use the cc: field sparingly.
  10. Use the "out of office' feature to inform co-workers you are working on a project and are working on a deadline and will respond at a certain time.
  11. Use the "high priority" option only when the topic is critical.
  12. Use a meaningful subject line for your e-mail to make it easy for co-workers to find and reference the e-mail at a later date.
  13. Don't use long sentences.  Use bullet points and helpful formatting to make reading your e-mails easy to digest.
  14. Experiment with internal "no e-mail Fridays."  Companies, such as U.S. Cellular and Deloitte & Touche have successfully done this experiment.


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