February 5, 2015

Kill (almost) all your email

For many people, the problem with work is that they can’t get it done during regular work hours. Between back-to-back meetings, unexpected requests and constant interruptions, time at work to actually work has become a precious commodity.

No matter who you are—executive, district rep, reporter, or programmer on a 3:00am sugar rush, chances are, you don’t usually have enough hours in the work day to get all of your tasks completed. For most, there are productivity killers deeply embedded in the culture of the company. These are usually so pervasive that they’re difficult to get around. Difficult, but not impossible!

We have seen teams, departments, and even entire organizations change how they work together to make the flow of work faster and easier. This, in turn, gives everyone involved more time to focus on their own priorities and explore new solutions. In some cases, it’s been nothing short of a work revolution. And, like any revolution, it only takes a small band of like-minded and fully-committed people to pull it off.

It starts by targeting the biggest time-bandit first—email.


Email is not the boss of you

What could you do with an extra 13 hours every week? How much more could you get done at work—and at home?

While social networks, chat, web conferencing and other platforms are becoming more popular, email continues to be the #1 form of communication for businesses of all sizes. (The Radicati Group). That’s why there are so many articles and tips out there on how to “manage” your inbox and reduce the amount of time you spend responding to emails.

The golden rules of email

Virtually all email tips and tricks have a few basic rules in common:

  • To reduce your inbox, reduce your outbox.

    By sending fewer emails, and keeping every email you send targeted to a single person for a single decision or data point, you can significantly reduce the amount of email you receive.

  • Make every email deliberate.

    Do not forward messages unless it is strictly necessary, and limit the recipients for each message to those who either need to provide information or make a decision.

  • If an email requires input from more than one person, or needs to cover more than one topic—get on the phone instead.

    Email is a poor tool for discussions. Much of the churn of email threads is clarifying information, or acknowledging other replies. If a conversation is required, and a meeting is difficult to schedule, consider a quick series of calls. You may find that you can arrive at a plan of action faster, even if you have to speak to each participant individually, than wading through a series of replies which are often out of sequence.

  • Keep your email to five sentences or less (and short sentences at that).

    We do not read emails, we scan them. For mobile email, this is even more important. One consumer email study calculated that the majority of iPad and iPhone users viewed an email for only 0-3 seconds. Android users spent slightly more time, with the majority scanning for 15 seconds or more. And less than half of desktop users (43%) spent more than 15 seconds on a message. (Movable Ink “US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q2 2014). Find a clock or digital device and measure 15 seconds. It’s not a lot of time!

  • Trust that there are better ways for the company to assess your value than monitoring your conversations.

    This can be difficult and require a leap of faith. However, it’s worth talking with your manager, supervisor or boss about ways to update them on your progress without email.

We say, why not get rid of email altogether?

At Convo, we’ve eliminated 99% of our company email. That’s because we all use a common platform. Using Convo allows us to chat, post files, comment on and annotate notes all in once place. It’s allowed us to have more productive meetings too. We spend less time in meetings because everyone’s comments are visible to the team at the same time. We can “like” a comment to acknowledge that we agree or have seen it, and we can quickly chat to make any decisions needed.

But don’t take our word for it

Outside of our company, we’re amazed to see how different teams have reengineered their entire work flows on Convo to save time and eliminate emails. CNBC, for example, uses Convo to manage news story leads. Leads are posted in the News Feed window, quickly assigned to various researchers and staff, who upload data and information directly into Convo on the same conversation thread. Reporters then write news copy directly from the post and repost their story for edits and comments. While the team works, the Convo feed is displayed on a giant screen at the front of the newsroom so that no one misses a lead or assignment.

It’s a fast-paced way to keep information in one place and let teams collaborate in real-time. Find more examples of how teams use Convo here.

And, if you want to kill your internal emails, regain time, sanity and transform the way your team works, feel free to check out Convo.


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