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Sending and Receiving Emails – Important or Just a Lot of Work?

Receiving emails is just as much work as sending emails. I was listening to a podcast recently about the nature of emails in the work world. The premise was that it has, in fact, decreased productivity and lessened our ability to engage in deep thinking. This podcast was from The Next Big Idea, hosted by Rufus Griscom and Cal Newport.

The episode discusses the evolution of emails and strategies to continue to engage in deep thinking despite the ongoing distractions of the email barrage. They note “Communication overload undermines your productivity, erodes your focus, zaps your energy, and makes you miserable.” On average, people check their email every six minutes.

Now, people receive over 100 business emails a day. The most recent data I could find was from 2015, with an average of 121 emails per day. Even articles posted in 2017-2019 referenced this 2015 study.

I wanted to test out my emails in and out for one week. My contract work is slowing down so this is to be expected a much slower pace of emails than I have typically dealt with in the past.

Here is the breakdown of my email usage (sending and receiving emails):

receiving emails

So most days, I was below the average number of emails received. As you can see from my emails out, not every email needed a reply from me. It may have been a subscription or information that I filed away in my folders. I like to keep my emails organized as much as possible.

Another study from Harvard Business Review found that most people have an average of 200 emails in their inbox and only respond to about 25% of those messages.

What Cal Newport argues is that not everything needs to be an email. There is a really nice blog post with 3 rules for reducing emails. Additionally, I recommend listening to the podcast episode to get some takeaways on how to reduce emails and for organizations to create better systems and processes for handling information.

I look forward to reading Cal Newport’s book, A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in Age of Communication Overload. I believe this thought process to be the future of work and it’s time for entrepreneurs to get ahead of the game and find resources to streamline communication. I’ll post a review once I finish reading it!

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