Recognizing the Real Problem with Email
by Michael Hoffman
If you are a leader in an organization, it could be a good idea to read this article by Maura Thomson entitled: 5 ways email costs your company.
The article explores the negative impact of email on productivity and offers strategies to mitigate its detrimental effects. It highlights how excessive email usage leads to distractions, decreased focus, and reduced efficiency in completing tasks. The article suggests implementing email management practices such as setting specific times for email checking, prioritizing emails, utilizing email filters, and encouraging face-to-face or phone communication for important discussions. By implementing these strategies, companies should be able minimize the productivity costs associated with excessive email usage.
I agree with Ms. Thomson’s points, except for number 5: Leaders often overlook the negative impact of after-hours emails on families. While research supports this, I believe the solution lies in assuring workers that there is no expectation for them to respond or handle emails outside of work hours. Rather than preventing senders from being ambitious, let’s empower receivers to establish healthy boundaries.
However, the crucial point I want to emphasize regarding this topic is that once again, we have another article highlighting the high costs of email while ignoring the elephant in the room. Even if we follow all of Ms. Thomson’s wise advice (which is valuable), the solution is not about controlling people, but in addressing our inadequate email handling systems.
You may argue that it depends on the user, as we all have different ways of working and capabilities.
To that, I say, no. Many of us think that, but there is so much evidence to the contrary.
Look around you. Walk over to someone you greatly respect for their organizational skills and disciplined way of working and ask to see their inbox.
I used to believe that colleagues would hesitate to share their inbox, fearing their overwhelming wall of email and countless unread messages would be embarrassing. However, the reality is quite different. Disorganized inboxes have become so commonplace that most readers probably can’t even grasp the concept of an organized inbox. What does it even look like? Why should I care? After all, if we can get through our emails, it’s not a problem, right?
To understand this phenomenon, we can draw a parallel to the old cigarette ads from the forties and fifties, featuring doctors endorsing specific brands. There will come a tipping point when people will reflect on this era and chuckle, reminiscing about the time when email struggles were prevalent due to the novelty of email technology in the 2020s.
The reality is, LeanMail’s add-in and method for managing email in MS Outlook have been successfully utilized for over a dozen years. This means that the current state of chaotic email management doesn’t have to persist – not even now.