“I don’t understand why we send people the information they need and they don’t read their email!”
My frustrated friend was lamenting how people don’t READ their email, causing more inefficiency.
I told him that maybe it’s because when people need information, they feel the quickest thing to do is ask again instead of digging through an over-filled in-box to find it.
I’m not excusing that behavior–I'd done something similar a day before. I was confirming a meeting and could not find the street address for it. So I stopped digging and asked the person again to confirm the location.
But I can understand my friend’s frustration. It interrupted his morning,when if his colleagues would keep up with their messages, everyone could go about their work more easily.
So how can we, as a professional society, change this? Here are some thoughts:
Change our attitude. Many professionals live with the opinion that email is the enemy. I have news for you. It’s not. It’s just a means of communication no different than phone calls, texts, or social media posts. Whether you like it or not, much of your business takes place in email and will be negatively affected if you don't respond. It’s not a separate task from your work. Get over it and find a system customized to you.
Keep up with your email. Find a system that works for you. Perhaps you won’t be able to practice “Inbox Zero” but you can still keep up with the important things. (My course, Forget Inbox Zero: Be an Inbox HERO goes deeper.)
File the important items in a logical place. The address I needed? I could have attached it to the calendar appointment. Waiting to hear back this week? Have a “briefly hold” folder in your email system (don’t let it pile up!)
Set up rules. Filter messages from vital connections so they are saved in folders or marked with a different color. Auto-direct emails related to a certain task to their own folder.
These small but mighty changes can help you handle email with much more efficiency and prevent people from getting frustrated with lack of information or response. Be a pro–give it a go!