Are you bombarded by email, texts, tweets, posts and instant messages? I’m not talking about the fun ones from your friends. I’m talking about the ones you get from your boss, colleagues, clients and other people in your workplace. I could easily spend all day trying to sift though all these messages, not to mention the time I spend trying to respond to each one. To top that, at least half the messages people send me don’t really need my attention.
So what do we do with the emails we don’t think we need? The tendency for many people is to delete the email and prioritize how we tackle responding to the rest. You may even find yourself feeling anxiety or anger when someone sends you a seven paragraph email when they could have been more concise. After all, don’t they realize you are busy?
What we all forget is that to the sender, it was important enough to write. The reason isn’t important. What is important is that we should take time and acknowledge that it is that person’s work. I use the term “work” in the sense of discretionary effort put forth with a specific outcome in mind, not actual value.
I don’t want you to spend all day dealing with only answering email or other messages. What I want you, and me, to do is realize that we shouldn’t just dismiss the work that someone else finds important. What should we do?
- If you ask for a report, read it when it is prepared.
- If you receive an email, at least read through it once.
- If you shouldn’t be copied on something, quickly and politely notify the sender to stop including you in the future.
- If someone creates any work product for you that is not helpful or needed, advise them politely. Either tell them what information would be helpful or that it is not needed going forward.
Not rocket science, I know. Just small reminders that just deleting email and other messages won’t help clear your inbox. You need to communicate with people about what you need, and most importantly, what you don’t.