Email, or ‘electronic mail’ to give it its full title, has been around since the 1970s and has revolutionized the way we communicate. It has also provided businesses with a cheap and extremely efficient way of sending near-instant messages and is now the de-facto method for written communications between businesses and their suppliers and customers.
The days of fax are very nearly at an end (still important for documents requiring signed authorization).
However, like most technologies, there is a downside and many employees are suffering from information overload. The average knowledge worker receives around 93 email messages a day, some say this figure is far higher and it doesn’t just apply to businesses, many home users find themselves in the same boat! So how do we get out of this email hell, living life stuck in our inbox?
Careful when you sign up or register!
To subscribe to just about anything online these days, the website will ask you to register your details and the crucial piece of contact information is your email address. While there are codes of conduct that websites must follow to protect your privacy, the reality is that, once you start to put your email address out there and subscribe to various websites, your email address will ‘leak’ to other companies and you will start to receive messages you didn’t really ask for aka SPAM or unsolicited mail.
One trick is to use a different email address for all your registrations. That way, you keep your personal email address free of clutter and let all the rubbish emails build up somewhere else. The only downside is you have to monitor that email account too!
Take your time to reply
Some people like to use email as a form of instant communication and, if you are sitting in front of your computer, it’s very tempting to drop what you are doing and send an instant reply.
The problem is the recipient gets used to this and thinks, “Hey, Eamon always gets back to me straight away.”
Think of email as a letter of sorts, open at your leisure and reply when you get a chance! There are other applications for real-time communications, such as Chat and Instant Messaging.
The dreaded ‘carbon copy’
It is incredibly simple to send an email and even easier to send a ‘carbon copy’ (CC) to someone else but think before you do it. Do they really need to receive it, or is it just going to clog up their inbox? Perform an act of kindness and use CC sparingly!
Take back control of your inbox
If you have gone too far, take a look at the excellent app SaneBox – www.sanebox.com. It will prioritise your email and let you focus on the important ones. It’s not free (there is a free trial), but it really works and integrates with most email clients, including Gmail and Microsoft Exchange.
Eamon is a Senior IT Professional with PaqIT, an IT Service Provider with offices in Limerick and Galway. See www.paqit.com.