Email Overload: Addressing This Workplace Phenomenon

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employee checking his email

France has recently introduced a law which made it illegal for companies to require their employees to check their work email over the weekend. In 2018, a company has been ordered to pay an employee €60,000 (£53,000) for violating this law. This illustrates how much email exchanges have taken over our lives at work. People spend so much time in the office – even more than in their own homes that they’re probably more familiar with their office furniture now than what they have at home. And more often than not, a majority of their time is allotted to writing and answering emails.

In fact, a recent report has revealed that around 112.5 billion emails are sent worldwide daily. While technological devices have allowed us to communicate a lot more efficiently anytime and anywhere, this has caused a huge problem, as well. Now, we’re encouraged to stay online 24 hours, 7 days a week. In the workplace, this isn’t an issue for the subordinates alone. Bosses and managers are tasked to send their reports through emails no matter the time, inquiring about updates and progress. Then, the employees wait by their work email accounts for instructions, and often have to reply immediately for fear of missing an important detail from their supervisors.

What Exactly is Email Overload?

woman using laptop and working on her finances at homePeople who use their emails at work often let their inboxes get out of hand due to the lack of a solid system to handle their emails throughout the day. They’ve failed to come up with their own personal process, whether in terms of replying, forwarding, or writing an original message. This results in email overload, which has been proven to have a number of detrimental effects on a person’s productivity and overall performance at work. Some have reported feelings of anxiety and isolation, in addition to their loss of control over their current work environment.

How Can You Handle It?

Superiors should encourage their employees to rely less on emails and increase their face-to-face interactions with other members of the organization. This is especially true once the email chain has been going on for way too long. Also, it should be an established office culture that people shouldn’t send emails after office hours and during the weekend and holidays, so others won’t feel compelled to respond right away.

But if your job highly revolves around sending emails, especially if you work remotely, there are a few things you can do to lessen the load:

Organize your inbox – Create specific folders in your inbox to properly filter and sort through your emails. Use labels such as “Follow up,” “Important,” or any other important keywords depending on the nature of your work which will help you prioritize your tasks.

Delete all the unnecessary necessary – Not all emails you get require an urgent response. Others don’t even need a reply at all. So, prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed by the volume by eliminating as many of these unnecessary emails, such as advertisements, newsletters, and spam.

Know when you should just meet up – Sometimes, work gets done better and faster when people just meet face-to-face instead of having long email exchanges. Not only can this be time-consuming, but they’re also frustrating.

So, the next time you feel that an issue will be resolved better if you talk to that other employee personally, don’t hesitate to get up from your desk and deal with the matter professionally.