Email Mistakes We All Seem to Be Making These Days

I read what I think is a terrific (and also slightly scary) article in the Wall Street Journal by Sue Shellenbarger a few weeks ago entitled "Stop Wasting Everyone's Time," about how meetings and email are literally killing hours we need to be doing other things! Not telling you anything you don't know but what I found interesting and informative are some of the things we ALL are probably guilty of that we may not even realize. What is scary is how much we are all wasting each other's time and overloading one another just with our email communication alone.

Seagate Technology, a California company studied how its teams work together. According to the study, ( where they worked with 7600 people) they found that one single client was generating nearly 3700 emails and draining 8,000 work hours annually from 228 employees at Seagate. Fortunately for Seagate, they took this information very seriously ( it has to start from the top) and have made some significant changes that have had significant results in terms of available time to get real work done.

Shellenbarger talks about some of the biggest email culprits that waste everyone's time and put a huge dent in productivity and bottom line profitability.

When you email, do you:

  • Invite too many people at too many levels of management?
  • CC too many people routinely?
  • Constantly hit that "reply all" button without thinking?- UGH
  • Confuse recipients with vague subject lines
  • Frustrate attendees by stating unclear/vague agendas in your email
  • Invite feedback in your emails
  • Fail to make clear what recipients are supposed to do

Very often we can be part of the problem without intending to be. Becoming aware of some of our tendencies is the first step to making real changes. For example, are you a person who uses email to work out disagreements or invites colleagues to meetings to make them feel important or sends open-ended emails just to update colleagues about projects in case they want to weigh in?

All of this, ultimately, well intended or not, is draining us and causing high levels of stress, not to mention overwhelm and exhaustion every day.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope that I have given you some interesting things to think about when working on your next email or hitting that "reply all" button. Even if you make one small change in the way you are doing things, I know it will be greatly appreciated on the receiving end.

Have a productive day!

Coach Nancy