Is technology helping or hurting your productivity?

2015-10-01 14.56.49

“Hey did you get my email?” This was a text I received from a colleague last week.

“Yes, I did.” Was my reply.

“OK I just wanted to check because I didn’t hear back from you.”

Nowhere in the email I received from my colleague was there a request to respond. The email had important, valuable information for me, but there was nothing in the message that dictated a response. And that’s the problem. The very technologies that are supposed to add value to our work lives are actually doing the opposite.

Depending on what study you look at, we spend about 14 percent of our week on email. We spend more time emailing people at work than we do talking to them. Unfortunately email isn’t necessarily a better form of communication.

Going back to the text I received from my colleague. I used that moment as an opportunity to share my philosophy on email that helps keep my inbox clean. Rule number one is I don’t respond to emails just for the sake of responding. If you didn’t get my email, I know because my email client tells me there was a problem. If I sent you something helpful via email, I just assume you are thankful. You don’t have to tell me. You’re welcome.

How much do you like checking email? If you’re anything like me, not much. We’ve come a long way since the days of “You got mail!”. Now, I don’t want your mail. The only way we are going to reduce the time wasted on email is to respect the other person at the end of the email and only send things that are essential.

Rule number two is about checking email. I only do it a couple of times a day so I am not camped out in my inbox all day. If you have an urgent matter, a phone call or text would be a better option to get a hold of me. By doing this, I touch e-mail less often and am more efficient with my e-mail communication. I use tools like Gmail’s Canned Responses for e-mails that are routine in nature.

Last, rule number three is that my company, New Work Revolution, doesn’t use email for internal communication. We use a messaging tool called Slack. This way we have threads we can go back and review and we don’t deal with lame excuses like “I didn’t see that”, etc. If someone from my team sends me an email, they will catch a little heat for it. This has cut down my email time tremendously. Now the majority of the emails I receive are from clients. Tools like Slack cut down time spent on email dramatically. You can then use that time to focus on actually doing what you are paid to do.

Take a look at how you use email. How does email limit your productivity? What rules do you need to create for yourself? What’s working well for you and your team? Let me know I would love to hear what’s working and what isn’t. To your productivity!

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Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.

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