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The Secret to Reducing E-mail Overload
Marsha Egan, CSP - Workplace Productivity Coach and E-mail Expert Marsha Egan, CSP - Workplace Productivity Coach and E-mail Expert
Reading, PA
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's that time again: the designated time to check your e-mail. You type in your username and password to log in, and WHAM. You have 50 new e-mails. Half are insignificant, cursory responses — like your coworker Barry saying "Thanks" (just that one word) — or spammed interoffice memos cluttering your inbox. If these unnecessary responses weren't infesting your inbox, then you'd have more time to be more productive. So what is the secret to reducing the number of e-mails that show up when you log in?

E-mail begets e-mail. Understanding this is key. Billions of e-mails are pinging back and forth between our inboxes each day. If you send e-mails that require a response or leave some uncertainty in the recipient's mind, you will receive at least one e-mail for each one you send out.

In other cases, our actions on the Internet often lead to subscriptions to mailing list after mailing list that we soon lose interest in once we receive multiple e-mail advertisements in one day. If we want to reduce the number of e-mails we have to filter, sort, and delete, we have to be more responsible for our online footprint.

Here are six simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of e-mail you receive.

1. Respond only when necessary.
Don't fall into a pattern of replying to e-mails just to be polite or because you feel like you should. If the person's e-mail leaves no uncertainty or unanswered questions, don't respond; move on and save some time.

2. Copy the right recipients. Only copy the people who need to see the message. By doing so, you won't annoy anyone by adding to their inboxes unnecessarily and you avoid the risk of receiving extra replies from those e-mailed extraneously.

3. Create an auto signature. By programming an e-mail signature with all of your contact information you will eliminate needless e-mails asking you for your address or phone number. Also, giving this information to others may inspire them to call you instead of piling yet another e-mail onto your inbox.

4. Double-check your e-mails. Before sending a message, read over it to make sure the content is understandable and accurate. This will eliminate the barrage of reply e-mails asking for clarification or double-checking information. If people follow the rule of replying only when necessary, they won't waste their time or yours with another e-mail.

5. Unclick "Sign Up for Newsletter" boxes. When you are signing up for a web service or entering a contest, look for the little box at the end that offers to send you a newsletter or special offers. If you are not interested in receiving hoards of messages from the company, unclick this box. Doing so will save you time in the future and reduce the number of advertisements drowning your important e-mails.

6. Call the person. E-mail does not lend itself fully to real conversation. There is a back-and-forth element to e-mail, but you do not have the person's full attention for a longer period of time. So when you really need to discuss something in depth with a person, give your fingers a rest and exercise your vocal chords.

The next time you click "New Message" or "Reply", stop and ask yourself, "Is this e-mail really necessary?" If the answer is no, close the form. Once you turn these tips into your own habits, you'll be able to save yourself from receiving an astronomical amount of unnecessary e-mails.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC
Title: CEO
Group: InboxDetox.com, a division of The Egan Group, Inc.
Dateline: Nantucket, MA United States
Cell Phone: 610-780-1640
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