Email Productivity
How to be more efficient in written communications

Are we aware of how we use e-mail?
(From E-mail at the workplace)

In my seminars and conferences on how to optimize the use of e-mail, I give a very simple exercise to the participants, which always yields similar results. I first ask them, "What do you like the most of e-mail?", and I have included most of the responses in the beginning of this chapter, in the section called Benefits of e-mail.

Although the order can change depending on the event, the people to whom I have given this exercise give the following answers:

1. "I like being able to send a message to several people at once".

2. "I like being able to send as many messages as I want, at no extra cost".

3. "I like being able to answer messages whenever I want".

4. "I like being able to send attachments".

5. "I like that e-mails leave a record and a formal backup of the message".

So, the exercise becomes particularly interesting when I ask them, "What don't you like about e-mail?", because their answers are closely related to what they also consider their benefits.

For example, as senders, we like sending messages to many recipients at a time, but we don't realize that this is precisely part of the origin of the "chain mails" that are so annoying.

We also like sending as many e-mails as we want, but this is also part of the origin of the spam that causes so many headaches.

Every day there are more professionals that feel overwhelmed by the number of e-mails they need to read at work, but we are somewhat unaware of the abuse we ourselves make of e-mail, which in a way also generates the same volume that overwhelms us.

We also enjoy the possibility of responding whenever we want, but it also bothers us when our recipients don't respond at the speed we want them to.

We also like having the possibility of sending attachments like pictures and videos (sometimes extremely heavy), but many times feel annoyed when we receive those kinds of messages.

The same happens with the written record that e-mails leave. We like using them as a formal back-up in some circumstances, but at times we are annoyed when we receive messages from workmates that were written just to "cover their backs", and feel even worse when these mails are copied to the bosses.

It seems then, that we are unaware of the negative effects of e-mail that result from our own abuse of this medium. Perhaps the ease to "shoot" e-mails gives us the feeling that written communication is more informal and effective than personal or telephone communication.

Doesn't this also have to do with using e-mail in some cases where a direct conversation would have been better?

In 2004, Xerox interviewed 500 of its managers in the United Kingdom, and more than half admitted that they received too many e-mails on issues that could have been solved more productively by the phone or personally.

(Fragment from E-mail at the workplace by Juan Carlos Jimenez. See it at Google Books).

Are we aware of how we use e-mail at workplace?


Are we aware of how we use e-mail?

See my Blog about
the email at the workplace - Juan Carlos Jimenez

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