Email Habits that Contribute the Most to Email Time Suck

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Folder Dependence

Behavior #1: Folder dependence

The first and most critical behavior to tackle is our dependence on folders. While they seemingly help organize and de-clutter your mailbox, they actually can make it much harder to find an email when you need it quickly, especially when an email can potentially be in more than one folder – which is true of a majority of emails. For example, an email reply from a colleague with multiple folks in copy (including your boss) could end up in the wrong folder. This means you have to repeat search tasks in multiple folders before you find what you're looking for. Sometimes (or for some folks, many times) you are never able to find what you're looking for because it is not in the place you expected it to be.

Tip #1: Use folders sparingly and only to "de-clutter" your inbox, for example, by moving emails that belong in categories like subscriptions, alerts, newsletters, etc. to folders. Avoid using folders for work-related emails, especially ones you access often or work with regularly.

Email is the most pervasive and critical part of every employee's work day. According to a McKinsey Global study, employees spend a whopping 28 percent of their work week on email-related tasks, which is over two hours a day. To put this in perspective, if your company has 1,000 employees, we are talking about email consuming at least 2,000 hours every work day, 10,000 hours every work week and over 500,000 hours every year. Assuming that your average annual cost per employee is $50,000, the time spent with email is costing your company $60 million every year! Whew!

And there's a double whammy. The amount of time that email sucks is going to get worse, according to the Email Market (2014-2018) study by Radicati. This study finds that business email volume is going to increase by over 28 percent, from around 109 billion emails a day in 2014 to over 139 billion emails a day in 2018.

It is critical for your business to carefully study employees' habits that increase the amount of time they spend with email — even seemingly innocuous ones — and take immediate corrective action. To illustrate, let's assume that you are able to help employees save just 10 minutes out of the 120 they spend with email every day. Your company will save 41,700 productive hours and $5 million every year!

But where do you start? In this slideshow, email productivity experts FewClix for Outlook reveal which employee email habits contribute the most to "email time suck" and suggest actions you can take to ensure you are protecting your company from hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours wasted every day with email.


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