email productivity

Management Skills and Solutions to Increase Your Email Productivity

***Updated on 19 April, 2021

Strategies to supercharge your email etiquette and increase your email productivity

At PEPworldwide, we have been helping teams and individuals learn how to increase productivity for over 30 years. Our PEP program has given clients up to two extra hours a day to spend on the things that really matter, whether that’s high-value work or time with family. As part of our program, we ask participants to share what frustrates them the most about their workday. Given how much time we spend on emails, it’s not surprising that email management is often raised as an issue.

So, today we are sharing frustrations highlighted by our participants and solutions that you can put into practice right now, to improve your email productivity.

Frustration #1 – “Waiting for responses to emails from colleagues”

Do you feel like you’re always waiting for others to action requests that you’ve sent them? Or that you always have to remind colleagues to reply to your emails?

If so, you can make it easier for others and yourself – by using a clear subject line. Make sure that you always put the action required, and the due date and time in the email subject. For example, if you need a sign-off on something from your manager, use “For Approval: Topic XX, Due Date: YY”. If you need input, use “For input: Topic XX, Due Date: YY”.

Writing a clear subject line can take as little as a minute, but it can save you and your colleagues a lot of time down the track.

Frustration #2 – “Urgent request emailed out but no response”

Do you get stressed out when your email requests are unanswered, even when you’ve flagged them as “urgent”? If it’s genuinely urgent, email might not be the best tool. A phone call might be more effective, plus it will save you the stress of waiting.

email productivity

However, make sure that you understand what’s essential for the company. Ask yourself, is your request urgent and important for the company, not just yourself?

Frustration #3 – “Emails that are forwarded with no summary or decision/action required”

Following on with the theme of respecting your reader, don’t waste their time. Always put summary and action items at the top of an email chain that you’re forwarding, so the reader knows what they need to do. Assume that everyone is busy, and no one wants to read a long email trail.

Frustration #4 – “People that “copy all” into emails that I don’t need to read”

Again, think about your reader and what you need them to do. If you’re cc’ing someone into an email, include a note for them on why you’ve copied them in, and what exactly you want them to do. Doing so will also help them to better organise their inboxes. The more you do it, the more it’ll encourage others to do the same for you!

email productivity

Frustration #5 – “Constant emails interrupting the flow of my day”

Do you get interrupted by incoming email notification pop-ups? Do you find it hard to focus on tasks when monitoring emails?

A great way to increase email productivity and minimise interruptions is simply to schedule time in your calendar specifically for emails and close your email outside of those times. This allows you to block out time to focus on important tasks. Indeed, we’ve discussed time blocking in previous blogs, as it is a great tool to improve your productivity.

Frustration #6 – “Too many emails and not enough hours in the week”

Before they do our program many of our clients struggle to manage their emails – 37% spend more than 3 hours a day on emails. If you don’t have enough time for essential work tasks, try being more selective on what to respond to, and when to respond. Along with time blocking, organising your inbox better can save you time.

email productivity

Frustration #7 – “The process of filing emails feels time-consuming”

To cut down on filing, automate as much as possible. For example, in Outlook, inbox rules can automatically move emails to different folders.

Frustration #8 – “Email as a communication tool – I find it stressful and ineffective and a far longer way of getting work done as the primary mode of communication”

Many people use email as their default communication tool. However, other tools may be better suited for different purposes. For example, if you want to start a brainstorming conversation, posting a question or idea in Microsoft Teams or Slack might be a better way to go. If you’re going to ask a quick question, you could message a colleague directly, or give them a call, or better still add it to your ‘Speak to’ file for that person.

By being more selective in your use of email, you can cut down on unnecessary email traffic.

Better email management will help boost your email productivity while also freeing up time in your workday for more important tasks. Small changes can make a difference, so try out our tips for yourself today!

At PEP, we understand the frustrations and barriers to better productivity and how to address them. Learn how PEP can help you increase your productivity and improve overall wellbeing.

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