Priority Only: How to Reduce Your Email Communication and Focus on Messages That Matter

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Why You Should Switch from Email Communication to Communication Tools

Ever feel like you spent hours of your day dealing with email? You didn’t hallucinate that experience. White collar workers rack up over 2 hours a day reading and responding to email.

While some of those emails fall into the necessary category, much of it doesn’t. It’s not harmless, either. Email increases stress in measurable ways.

So, what can you do about cutting down on all of that email communication? Keep reading and we’ll give you some tips for streamlining that process.

Make Email High-Priority Only

Part of the problem with email is that everyone uses it for everything.

Rescheduling that make-or-break meeting with a new client. Send an email. Asking about the project that’s not due for three weeks. Send an email. 

One of those emails is a high-priority issue. The other can wait for a staff meeting or bumping into someone at the coffee machine.

Set out guidelines about what qualifies as high-priority enough to warrant an email. It might take some adjustment, but everyone will catch on.

Provide a Collaboration Tool

The content of many of the emails that fly around an office belong in a collaboration tool. A good collaboration tool provides options for instant messaging, as well as workgroups or workspaces.

This lets people fire off lower priority questions that anyone can answer when they log into the tool. A tool like Gravatate, for example, provides this exact type of functionality.

Rather than dread the very thought of your inbox, you know the messages in there matter. The non-critical messages get diverted into the collaboration tool.

That approach also leverages the power of the group mind. Anyone with the information can fill in the person with a question.

Take Advantage of Email Rules

Most email systems let you set up basic rules regarding incoming emails.

Many businesses send out a weekly or monthly newsletter. You probably also maintain subscriptions to a few professional newsletters.

You should read those newsletters, but they need not appear in your main inbox on arrival. You can set up a rule that sends newsletters to a newsletters folder. You can crack that folder open when things get slow on Thursday. 

Set a Schedule

You should talk with your immediate boss about this one if you have one, but setting an email schedule can help. Let everyone know that you check and respond to emails only at times X and Y during the day.

Knowing you won’t reply immediately discourages people from sending you low-importance questions.

Parting Thoughts on Reducing Email Communication

Reducing email communication can actually reduce your stress, which makes it a worthwhile goal.

Establish a set of guidelines about what qualifies as high-priority communication that needs an email. Provide a collaboration tool that allows for a team or workgroup to handle lower level questions themselves.

Use email rules to direct low-priority emails into appropriate folders. Set a schedule for when you’ll open and reply to emails.

Implement all of these strategies and you should see a steep fall-off in unnecessary emailing.

Gravatate specializes in communications tools aimed at improving your business.  For more information about our collaboration tools, contact Gravatate today.

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