It irritates me when someone calls me and asks “did you see my email?” In most cases, the email was sent just a few minutes prior to the phone call. In today’s business world, I fear too many professionals are simply reacting to email and when the inbox has been whittled down to a manageable number by the end of the day, there is a sense of accomplishment. Professionally this is very dangerous. If you have read any of my past posts, you know I am a fan of email when used properly. However, when used improperly, can lead one to a dramatic decrease in productivity and results.
As you sit at your desk, take a quick look at how many emails you received and sent in one day. Moreover, look at how many of these emails were deleted or unnecessary. I am sure you will be surprised. Most all professions have specific tasks, activities and results that need to be accomplished each day. Are you honestly getting them done or are you spending most of your day responding to others? To be successful, you must know when to use email and when you do, how to use it effectively. To be successful, email is to be used when you are unable to reach someone via phone call (always leave a message and let them know you will follow-up via email), to confirm points or action items, communicate with multiple parties, approvals and the like. Email is not to be used when you need a response to something urgent. Moreover, email is not to be used when you can get the response or information you need with a simple short conversation. The great thing about communicating with someone face-to-face or on the telephone is you can get a response at that moment. If your first contact is email, anyone can avoid, delay or not respond and in many cases, they don’t. In which case, you are now trapped in the cycle of repetitive emails.
In addition to knowing when and how to use email, you must also know when to turn off email to focus on the work you are being paid to do! For example, if you are a sales professional, you are getting paid to deliver results. Yes and again, email is a great tool, but email is not going to get you your next big client… only fundamental sales activities will. This is the same for all professions, so be sure to deliver what you are getting paid to do! There are no bonuses or promotions based on you clearing your inbox every day.
Now back to “did you see my email.” If you need something from someone, simply pick up the phone. Most people are not (and I truly hope not) simply emailing all day. The expectation that someone is only responding to email all day and should be responding to you shows you don’t understand that people have jobs to do and email is not a part of them being successful.
So, get your job done, use email for support when needed and if you need something from someone, pick up the phone. You will realize that everyone, no matter what is happening, will answer… and this is what you want, immediate response to something you need!