Thursday, March 01, 2007

E-mail Overload?

In a recent meeting, someone stated that they had a hard time navigating and locating specific messages that were sent to the entire system. This got me thinking, so I took a look at the number of messages that were sent to three major distribution lists that I am a member of. Those are Everyone Staff List, All Reference Staff List, and Central All List.

In the past month:

  • 70 messages were sent to the All Reference Staff List.
  • 45 messages were sent to the Everyone Staff List.
  • 20 messages were sent to the Central All List.
That is a total of 135 messages in one month. Most, if not all, were sent Monday through Saturday, so that ends up being about 5 to 6 messages a day.

Of those 135 messages (numbers approximate):
  • 50 included tax help information (closings, form requests, etc.)
  • 13 included equipment/facilities information (early branch closings, broken copiers, etc.)
  • 13 included information on library programs.
  • 12 included information on personnel issues (correct holiday abbreviations, staff vacations, etc.)
  • 7 included First Responder ideas.
  • 5 involved Bowling.
  • 5 involved In-Charge announcements.
  • The rest included random information about branch deliveries, item searches, statistics, weather, etc.
So what does this all mean? Why is the useful information? To me this means that we are not facing an impossible task, but we need to spend time each day making sure our e-mail Inbox is organized. A good way to do that is to follow the Four D's of E-mail Decision Making.
  • Delete It (if it has nothing to do with you or can be found easily some place else)
  • Do It (if it takes less than two minutes to do it, just do it then return to your email)
  • Delegate It (if someone else should do it, then let them know)
  • Defer It (if it takes longer than two minutes to do it, save it till you have completed reading and organizing your email)
Also, create folders. If you have trouble finding information about special branch closings, create a folder titled Branches. Then, just click and drag those messages into that folder as soon as they appear.

Or, create a folder titled To Do. Then for each message that requires you to perform an action, just click and drag it into that To Do folder.

Create a folder titled Personnel. Then click and drag messages pertaining to Holidays or Insurance into that folder.

And most importantly, once you are done with a message, or you have no need for a message, then delete it. If you find yourself thinking, "hmmm, this could maybe, possibly be useful in a certain circumstance..." DELETE it! Or, "well, I know this can be found on the intranet-" DELETE it!

See our Outlook Help page for help in creating folders and more.


Phil said...

I'll bet that most of those emails would have fitted neatly into a weblog or wiki format!

Kevin Dixon said...

Yes, I like the idea. We have just begun to experiment with MediaWiki and I think we will utilize it more and more.

Two hurdles exist. 1) Staff skill levels and comfort in adding content to a wiki. 2) Staff mindset regarding regularly checking the content of the wiki (or blog).

I am certain as time progresses and as we begin to introduce and depend on these new tools more and more, that staff will adapt and understand the benefits.