Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 50

Avoid Productivity-Destroying Email Habits

Managers need to be aware of unhelpful email practices, says a leadership expert.

Rieva Lesonsky, small business blogger, recently shared with OPEN Forum email habits that can destroy productivity. They include:

  • Keeping email alerts on. "Does your computer ping or ding, or your phone flash or beep, every time you get email?" she says. "According to a case study by Loughborough University, it takes an average of 64 seconds to fully recover each time we're interrupted by an email. Multiply that by how often you check your email each day, and we're talking hours of wasted time. Unless your business absolutely requires instantaneous response ... turn off notifications."
  • Defaulting to email. "Many of us are in the habit of using email for everything—even when it's easier to just shout to the person sitting right outside our office door, pick up the phone or walk down the hall," Lesonsky says. "By the same token, if you find yourself typing a War and Peace-length email, it might be best to schedule a phone call or in-person meeting instead."
  • Replying immediately. "Email creates a false sense of urgency that can lead us to send quick responses we later regret," she says. "Sometimes you need time to think before composing a reply. If you're worried people will think you didn't get their email or that you're ignoring them, send a quick email to let them know you received their message, and tell them when they can expect a more detailed response."
  • Starting the day with email. "Get a few core tasks out of the way in the morning when your energy is high, before checking your email for a set time," Lesonsky says. "Limiting email to set times each day enables you to focus—not only on other tasks, but also on email itself when you do get to it."
  • Multitasking while emailing. "Ever sent an email complaining about someone to the very person you're complaining about?" she says. "Accidentally ‘replied all' to something you only meant to send to one person? ... All of these possibly business-busting mistakes, and more, can happen when you're distracted by multitasking. Taking the time to focus on what you're doing, spell check your emails, and double check any attachments and the ‘To,' ‘CC' and ‘BCC' fields will save you time and embarrassment in the long run."

This article is from the June 24, 2013 issue.

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Institute for Senior Communications and Marketing Professionals

Oct. 23 - 25, 2013
Washington, D.C., United States

This conferece will engage leaders in peer-to-peer discussion about the big-picture issues in management, technology and politics at their institutions.