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Your Email Is Killing You: 9 Ways to Survive

Jan 27, 2015

startupcollective

Question: If you believe that email can be a productivity killer for your employees, what strategies have you implemented as a manager to make sure that your people do not get bogged down from accomplishing "real" work?

Standardize Subject Lines

"Client requests often come in at all hours of the day, and in order to ensure we can work on projects and not just respond to email all day, we like to use "URGENT" and "FYI" in our subject lines. This helps identify issues that need to be addressed immediately and notifies us of emails that can wait until a more convenient time." — Kelly Azevedo, She's Got Systems

Kill Long Threads

"If an email thread goes past three replies, then I prohibit continued back-and-forth nonsense. Pick up the phone and have a conversation instead of wasting time on paragraphs of spell-checked pontification. Keep email actionable, brief whenever possible and easy to read." — Seth Talbott, CEO and Startup Advisor

Use P2 Instead

"P2 is a WordPress theme we use internally for all communication. Instead of sending an email, just make a post to P2. It cuts out on long email threads. It's searchable and indexable for later. And it's way more transparent." — Wade Foster, Zapier

Implement a 5-Minute Limit

"You cannot let emails accumulate. So, if you can answer the email in fewer than five minutes, you should answer it immediately, and stop procrastinating." — Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

Create Mailboxes For Tasks

"We have established a ticket system, and we are gradually moving away from using emails because it is a productivity killer. In the meantime, we have created new mailboxes where scheduled daily tasks are delivered to keep our general email accounts clean. We also ask our employees to immediately unsubscribe from emails that are distracting." — Evrim Oralkan, Travertine Mart

Hang Out on Google

"We leverage Google Hangouts a lot in our work. We can set up immediate, unplanned chats where we can talk things through and move on, rather than cluttering inboxes with hundreds of messages that may be misinterpreted and take much longer to respond to in writing. Just talk to each other, and drive on with business!" — Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

Track the Productivity Metrics

"At our company, we track all the productivity metrics of our employees. One particular metric we track is the amount of time spent on email. So, as an example, I spent 16 percent of my workday on email. As a general rule, we try to keep email use under 20 percent, and if it's at anything over that, we look at what that person is doing." — Liam Martin, Staff.com

Unplug

"Spend 60 minutes offline. At Lemonly, we have a mandatory hour in the day offline. No email, no Skype and no browsing. This is the most productive hour of the day for most of our team, and people focus on larger projects." — John Meyer, Lemonly

Set Up Your Space For In-Person Collaboration

"We encourage our team to talk to each other to quickly resolve issues instead of waiting on an email answer. This means being respectful of your team and not interrupting unless the question is really worth the interruption. We have found that this helps us remove obstacles more quickly than using email, and it keeps communication flowing internally." — Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

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