Business E-Mail Efficiency
Business E-Mail Efficiency
Tim Burress (E-mail Etiquette and Organization Specialist) gives expert video advice on: How long should a business e-mail be?; How many e-mails should I send a day?; How quickly should I reply to a business e-mail? and more...
How much time do we spend on e-mail?
On average, a professional today spends about two and a half to three hours a day, every single day on e-mail. We spend about forty percent of our day processing, handling, filing, storing, creating, reading, and writing e-mail. That's almost fifty percent of the day.
How many e-mails do we process a year?
The average professional also process about twenty thousand e-mails a year. When I say process, that's read and write. Not actually do the work that's in the e-mail, submit your business plan, create a new project, but actually just reading and understanding and writing, and processing twenty thousand e-mails a year. It's increasing at a pace of about 14.6% per year compounding. The digital information is largely occupying the greatest amount of all day in e-mail.
Do we need to be spending so much time on e-mail?
Of that 40% of the time that we spend processing e-mail, most professionals say that about 1/3 of that time is what we would call wasted on unnecessary, irrelevant, unimportant e-mail. So being that e-mail occupies 40% of our day, most professionals feel that about 1/3 of that time is wasted. So it's a great opportunity to increase the efficiencies.
How much of our e-mail time is wasteful?
Most professional are saying that out of the e-mail they receive in a particular a day, about 65 to 70 percent e-mail they receive is unnecessary. Now those are people who are sending e-mails from their own team to them, but about 60 to 70 percent of the e-mail we receive is unnecessary, meaning it isn't important to me, it isn't relevant for me, its redundant, I've already seen it, people using the 'reply to all'. People often say 'reply to all' is used about 70% of the time by their colleagues, often over-used 'reply to all', whereas me, myself, If I was to be asked that question "Do you often over-use reply to all?" Most people say that's around 10%. So I'm not using 'reply to all', but someone in my company is using it. So, there's a great sort of 'I'm fine with e-mail, but someone else must be responsible for this e-mail' because that question really embodies the fact that it's not me hitting 'reply to all'.
What is the 'boomerang effect'?
There is a boomerang rate that happens with e-mail. Boomerang means for every five e-mails that I send out, three are going to come back to me, to the original sender. There is a 65% rate of return with e-mail to the sender largely the way that the e-mail is written. It is unclear so you are going to reply back to the person," I'm not sure what you are asking". It's incomplete - "I'm not sure what you are asking about". It's confusing - It could be confusing because it is long or short. So a lot of e-mail has a return rate to the original sender of about 65%. We call this the boomerang rate with e-mail. It's largely because the e-mail you sent out wasn't clear or concise to the receiver.
How long should a business e-mail be?
The proper length to an e-mail is a difficult question to answer because it's the message that you're trying to convey. If I ask you for the time, just tell me the time and don't build me a clock, so often just being very clear and very concise and direct with the person is often the best way to answer an e-mail. Be clear and concise about it, rather than typing a longer message than is not needed.
How many e-mails should I send a day?
About three emails a day per person is really what the quota should be limited to. As soon as I send you 6, 10, 12 e-mails in any given 24-hour period, I start to lose importance and value because I'm communicating so much that what could possibly be that important that I need to send you 15 e-mails a day. So once you go over about 2 or 3 emails a day, people tend to look at you as "oh no, here comes another e-mail from so and so." There can't be that much important information, so some people say actually try to limit how much you're going to communicate with someone at any given period. Try not to send them 10 or 15 e-mails every single day, but try to maybe take those 10 or 15 and maybe consolidate 2 or 3 of them down to one email. And then think about not sending them some things in which you can move to other mediums like voicemail or a live face to face conversation.
How quickly should I reply to a business e-mail?
A response time for an email is largely set by the sender, or should be set by the sender. The sender knows when they need something. “Please get back to me by next Tuesday, 5 pm.” Then I know I need to get back to you by next Tuesday by 5 pm. But if you write, “Hey, get back to me with this important question or an answer to this,” I don't know whether you need it in two minutes or two weeks. So, it's the sender's responsibility to set time, never the receiver's. I can't read your mind. And we're on two different time zones, too, or three different time zones. So, when does the time begin, for the sender's or receiver's time? So being clear with the time up front is very helpful for the receiver.
How do I make sure to get less business e-mail?
To get less e-mail, you really want to send less. So if you've got four or five e-mails for a particular person in your inbox, instead of responding to each one individually, look for e-mails that you can combine. So, per se, if you had an email from a person that talked about a meeting and another one talked about the lunch to order for a meeting, combining those into one email back to the person would be better in terms of reducing the total volume of e-mail that you're sending out which has a direct correlation to what's in your inbox coming in. So sending less to get less means combining two messages into one.