Death by Email – How To Avoid Inflicting It, or Succumbing To It!

SkyeTeam Leadership Development

Let me be clear, you can’t actually die from an overload of email, the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer. However I am sure there have been times when you have felt like you might!

Email is ubiquitous. But the fact that it is everywhere doesn’t mean it should be everywhere. Have you stopped to consider how reliant you are on email? How many do you send and receive? How insidious a tool it has become?

It is all to easy to get trapped in the Pavlov’s dog response when you here the “ding” of a new message, or see the little light flash on your phone. “I’ve got to reply now… I’ve got to reply now.” Actually, you don’t.

Like many of my clients I am guessing that the total “to/from” email dance results in hundreds of emails every. single. day. Day in. Day out. Let’s do some quick maths… a conservative 200 emails… each taking just 45 seconds (in fantasy land) to read/action/delete – that’s a whopping 2 1/2 hours every day that you will be sitting behind your laptop or hunched over your smartphone. No wonder we all bemoan “not being able to get to the day-job!”

My personal “death by email” is caused by determined focus on “read-action-delete” with the goal of an empty in-box. It is a task worthy of Sisyphus (the guy destined to push the rock up a hill for eternity, only to watch it roll down again and have to start over), the patience of Job, and the strength of Hercules all rolled into one. No sooner do I get it “under control” then it is “out of control” again.

See what I mean? You are stuck at your desk, in your office, on the train, at home, over dinner… responding to email. All the while life and business is going on around you and you are missing out.

Here’s a secret to breaking the cycle. Email begets email. If you send one – you will receive one back. If you send an email and cc 5 people – you will likely get 6 emails. Emails beget email.

When you find yourself stuck in the email loop of protracted arguments, endless replies, and misunderstanding, then you have to BREAK THE CYCLE. You have to stop the madness.

Get up and talk to the right people and you may find that you can make a decision in 2 minutes. Pick up the phone, walk down the hall and sit and talk to someone.

In doing so you will find that decisions happen quicker. Misunderstanding are reduced, and trust is built. Email may be a quick answer, but it may not be the right answer. Try a real conversation – Your success (and sanity) depends on it.