What to Do When You're Drowning in Email

In a world where sending and responding to emails has become so time-consuming it can eat up entire days at the office, one email expert says the act of emailing is being mistaken for actual work.

Dmitri Leonov, vice president of growth for email consulting firm SaneBox, said it's important to remember that email is just a communication tool — not a job in itself.

"Don't confuse email with being productive," Leonov told BusinessNewsDaily. "It feels productive, but it really isn't."

According to Leonov, statistics show employees spend more than 13 hours a week responding to emails.  To trim down the time wasted writing back and forth, he said it's important to remember that all emails are not created equal.

"Not everything deserves your time," he said. "Some need to be responded to right away, but others can wait and some can be skimmed and deleted right away."

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To avoid spending too much time on your inbox, Leonov advises taking action on each message received. Letting it sit among new messages means the recipient inevitably will waste time rereading it.

According to Leonov, email users should delete, archive, forward or respond to each email.

"Keeping it in your inbox and waiting until laterto do something with it is not a positive response," he said.

He suggests setting aside dedicated periods of the day for checking and responding to email.

On average, Leonov said it takes an email recipient twice as long to respond to a message as it took for the sender to write it.

"One golden rule is to respect recipients' time," Leonov said, adding that employees would be able to cut down on their overall time spent emailing if everyone simply improved their email etiquette.

For short messages, Leonov suggests typing the entire message in the subject line, followed by the acronym EOM, which stands for End Of Message.

"That saves the reader the time of having to open the email," he said.

Another acronym Leonov encourages email users to include is NNTR (No Need To Respond).  This lets the reader know there’s no need waste time trying to craft an appropriate reply.

He also urges employees to copy only those who absolutely must read the email, and suggests forgoing an email in lieu of an in-person chat if the topic would require multiple emails sent back and forth.

"Think about what the ideal way of communication is," Leonov said. "Sometimes a voice conversation can be faster."

He compares today’s inbox situation to a bad game of Tetris, noting that while the goal is to clear all the tiles out, it never seems to work that way. And unless employees get a grip on the situation soon, the time they waste on email is only going to increase, he said.

"Just like Tetris, more (emails) keep coming, and they will speed up over time," Leonov said.

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