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The Email Conundrum: Does Email Increase or Decrease Productivity? Learn How to Make Email a More Efficient System.

This will be a series of blog posts dedicated to addressing some of the challenges email presents in the work setting. The first in the series will address the basic system and how to create more efficient methods. The second in the series will identify etiquette and proficiency in reading, replying to, and creating new messages. The last of the series will address how to “start over” with your current system if you are overwhelmed.


Email can be an efficient communication system and also the bane of existence to almost every professional who uses it in his or her career. Are you exasperated and slightly frightened to look at the number of emails you have? How many hours do you spend reading, responding to, or creating emails each day? A poll estimated 6.3 hours a day is spent checking emails, with 3.2 hours devoted to work emails and 3.1 hours to personal messages (Reaney, 2015). It appears this efficient communication method has in essence, decreased work productivity overall. How does one deal with the email conundrum?


Everyone who is being paid to perfume a job should only be viewing and creating email that is job related while on the clock. Many organizations have methods of tracking and viewing emails and websites utilized on their internet system. People have been fired for unjustified use of technology, and every professional on the job needs to be aware of his or her actions. Ethically, this also relates to how one uses his or her personal technology while on the job as well. To prevent any misunderstandings, I advise everyone to inquire with their boss what the company policy is regarding internet use, email, and phone use while on the job. Email for work can be a daunting concept. Consider the following strategies to help better manage your system for email:


Creating A System:

1.   Schedule when you will open your email program to read, reply, or create new messages every day. Example: 8:00-8:30 am, 1:00-1:30 pm, and 4:30-5:00 pm. I advise you to track how many new emails were in your inbox at the start of each session and how many messages you sent out. This will provide you with a pattern to better adjust your time frames for when you perform email related tasks. Remember, the time duration for this is not designated to “work” on the project the emails addresses, but rather to open an email and create a task list for what needs to be done, or to reply to the sender if need be.

2.   Identify a system of purposeful tags. A tag is a word that represents the content within the message for easy searching within your email or on your computer to find all the digital content related to the tag. Ideally your organization will have thought of these tags and provided you with a list to use so everyone can search the work server in a uniform way. If not, consider the information and what are important words that relate to the content if you need to find it in the future: date, names of people, projects, departments, organizations, or locations associated with the content. 

3.  Manage your mailbox folders. Your mailbox probably already has at a minimum: an inbox, sent, spam/junk, and a trash folder. It is important to decide what other folders to have, and you may find it useful to ask your colleagues or boss. Think about this in terms of folder categories and sub-folders. These will probably vary for every job title. Let’s use the example of a human-resource executive. Example folders might be: “Project Name (New Hires)” for the category folder, and “Development and Marketing” might be a sub-folder. Additional sub-folders might be called “Open Job Postings” and “Candidates.” You may find it useful to have additional category folders titled “Need to Address” and “Waiting for Reply.” Ultimately, you want to have a purposeful task-action folder where you can move every email that is in your inbox.





             New Hires

                       Development & Marketing

                                Open Job Postings


             Need to Address

             Waiting for Reply

Spend time reviewing your folders occasionally to decide if you need to revise your system. For example, you may find it saves you more time if you have sub-folders titled each day of the week under your “Need to Address” folder. Then you know which messages you need to prioritize for each day regarding their tasks.

Allocating time to think about how you will use email and what type of messages you will receive and send will increase your productivity in the future. Most businesses have policies regarding email and file storage. Some companies provide a better job orientation when covering all the details, policies, and expectations. If you were not provided any information regarding email on the job, I advise you to ask. Additionally, if there is not a current system in place, I advise you to inquire if one can be created- usually people who have been with the company for a long time will have a better understanding of how to create a more efficient system within the company.


"U.S. Workers Spend 6.3 Hours A Day Checking Email: Survey." Huffpost

Endeavor. Patricia Reaney, 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 June 2016.

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Tags: Email, productivity


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