Do you get too much e-mail at work?
Have you ever felt that you spend more time in a day managing e-mail than managing your work? Have you ever received an incomprehensible e-mail, or wondered why you received it in the first place?
You are not alone. These questions echo throughout our office corridors. Most of us have developed a love-hate relationship with e-mail. We love it for its convenience and easy access; we hate it for its intrusive “new message” pop-up screen and almost constant demands for our attention. We love it because we can send the same message to many people with a single keystroke; we hate it because we just get too many of these messages.
This book can be your guide through this often tumultuous relationship. Applying what you read in this book will help you create a more productive union between human interaction and electronic communication. Why has this intervention become necessary? The simple answer is that e-mail use in the workplace has overtaken its original usefulness as just another way to communicate. In day-to-day workplace e-mail, it seems we’ve never said so much and so little at the same time.
This book takes you on a journey through the typical communication problems that occur at work and focuses on the issues we face as e-mail originators and end-users every day. From this rich tapestry (which some of you may prefer to call chaos), we blend and weave practical, easy solutions that will create an immediate change in how you view and use electronic mail.
How to Read Managing Your E-Mail.
This book consists of six chapters.
Chapter 1 opens with the heading “Great Expectations,” which frames part of the e-mail problem in terms of our actions and reactions to using it. We look at the unspoken tensions experienced in the workplace. Debunking e-mail myths gets to the heart of the conundrum between electronic mail as a productivity tool and its overuse eroding the bottom-line, by providing information about the hard numbers and the dollars that are being misspent.
Chapter 2 has a strategic focus that delivers a critical set of messages to organizations. Readers will benefit from getting a glimpse of the larger perspectives of e-mail and how all of us can be affected. In this chapter, you learn:
- Why our e-mail messages are so vulnerable
- How e-mail is used in lawsuits, and the costs of not having electronic document retention
- How employees unknowingly contribute to having their e-mails made public
- How departments and organizations can create effective e-mail policies
The focus of the remainder of the book is on specific categories of electronic mail problems. Each chapter outlines stories, problems, research highlights, solutions, and tips. Each chapter provokes thought while inspiring action.
Chapter 3 continues the focus on workplace e-mail issues through managing e-mail as a separate communication channel. This discussion leads to a detailed guide to choosing appropriate communication channels to convey information.
In this chapter, you learn:
- When to use e-mail as the appropriate communication channel
- How to avoid the unproductive use of e-mail as a proxy for conversations
- Impacts of corporate culture on employee e-mailing behaviors and perceptions
- Circumstances when the e-mail channel is abused
Chapter 4 outlines options for improving control over your inbox and the e-mail system. In this chapter you learn:
- Characteristics of the e-mail volume problem
- Ways to control your inbox for better management
- To identify and control low value messages that clog your inbox
- The problems and solutions regarding group e-mailing and distribution lists
- Features to help you operate your e-mail software
- How to investigate and size-up your e-mail problems
Chapter 5 examines the common communication elements that drive our habits in today’s workplace. We’ll look at time-tested communication principles and show how they apply to e-mail. You learn:
- How to structure an e-mail to deliver high-impact information
- How to write messages that are easily understood
- Best practices for responding to e-mails
The concluding chapter summarizes some final thoughts on why and how to take control of our inboxes at individual, management, and corporate levels.
There is no doubt that e-mail is an indelible part of our work lives. Technology and electronic mail have brought tremendous benefits to our societies and workplaces. When productivity tools, such as e-mail, that were designed to make our lives easier, turn the tables on us and cause us to work longer hours, making us become further frustrated and isolated from humanity, then it is time for us to regain control.
Fortunately, there is plenty of room for technology and humanity to grow together, productively, and in harmony. I wrote this book with a great deal of personal passion. This passion came from readers like you, who collectively feel that we could do a better job in not only managing our e-mail communications, but all our communications in the workplace. If you follow the guidance offered in this book, you will experience a real sense of both enlightenment and power—enlightenment on the specific causes and effects that promote e-mail’s dark side, and the power to take control of this technological Goliath. This power is in your hands now.