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How much of your day would you say you waste on seemingly useless tasks? Have you ever been caught in traffic, doing the math on how many hours of your life you could get back if you only lived a few miles closer to work? Maybe those meeting notes that you spend half your morning prepping for your team feel like just a waste of cloud storage? And don’t get me started on those weekly “touch-bases” that seem to happen with a few too many departments. In the ever-more-present age of integrated work and life, it’s important that we cut down on the inefficient. Surely you’re seeing workplaces try to cut out every unnecessary task they can–and yet, it still feels like we’re filling our days with more and more fluff. How do we make it stop? Let’s start by picking on an easy target: your email inbox. With the myriad solutions for modern messaging, from chat rooms to leaderboards, we’d like to make a compelling case as to why ditching your inbox may be the best business decision you can make. It can be tough to transition out of what is most familiar, or what is the most broadly accepted way of doing things. But let this be our challenge to you: if you are struggling to effectively communicate with your employees, take a chance on a new way of doing things. Here are just a few of the immediate benefits you’ll see when you ditch your inbox.
What we’re not saying is that email is dead. As Rory J Knighton, a social media and content marketing specialist, shared on LinkedIn so succinctly: “what we’re talking about is not replacing email or even limiting it for external only comms, we’re looking at evolving communication internally to increase efficiency and productivity in the workspace.” The truth is there are just a few instances in the office where we’re still stuck in bad old habits. So let’s break them. Consider programs like Trello or Google Docs: they enable live tracking and editing on group projects, making for a more instantly-collaborative experience. Traditionally, when you want to share a document, you have to attach it, send it, have your coworker download it, highlight and make changes, then re-attach and send back. And that back and for continues potentially all week. But what if you could cut out five of those steps every time a new change is made? In the same way, a modern KPI dashboard can save you the hassle of sending out stack rankings or that weekly email you know no one’s reading anyway. When you opt for a broadcasting or dashboard platform over traditional emailing, you’re not just keeping up with the latest trends: you’re giving yourself back time every day and making sure your employees are getting the message faster. Finding programs that cut down on extra steps, and allow for more sharing and collaborating in real time, are a no-brainer. It’s really that simple: the longer you stay in your inbox, the more hours you’re adding to your day.
Speaking of emails that nobody reads, how many new messages have popped into your inbox since you’ve started reading this post? How many times have you found yourself back from a quick break, already behind on the conversation thread that’s now 20 messages long? Any more than “once” is probably too many. The problem isn’t simply that this noise is annoying (which it definitely is), but it’s actually making us dramatically less productive. Generally speaking, there are a very limited number of tools that that can help us to discern how important a new email is–and so more or less, we’re spending the same amount of time processing every new message. And that automatically eats into the time you should be spending on your top priorities. Greg Mckeown, a LinkedIn influencer and New York Times best-selling author, said it like this for Entrepreneur: “Requests come at us from all angles and we are unprepared to discern between them. As a result, we start saying yes to them without really thinking. This fuels a busyness cycle where the more we take on the less time we have to discern what we should take on.” The truth is, while your inbox can be a hub for important messages, and has historically been an excellent tool for communicating with a broad group of people, it’s probably feeding your “busyness cycle.” One solution is to change your traffic patterns, so to speak. If you have a key set of communications that you’ve assigned higher importance, and are sending them out regularly, trying moving to a visualization-based platform. Trends in social media have shown us time and time again that Millennials are more visual workers–so adapt! At the end of the day, your priority as a manager should be clear: get the message out most clearly and effectively. And in truth, email is decreasingly the best way to do that.
Direct communication trumps all. We may be most comfortable with email, but what matters most is that everyone is one the same page. HBR notes that when employees are engaged, the average company sees a 22% boost in productivity. But “engagement” is just a buzzword, right? Actually, that article has a pretty succinct definition. Engaged employees are: “People who want to come to work, understand their jobs, and know how their work contributes to the success of the organization.” At its heart, engagement is rooted in understanding. And It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that: when people know what they need to do, they are more productive. And looking at employee engagement numbers, it seems pretty clear that most people don’t. So doesn’t it make sense that it’s time to shake things up in the way that we communicate? Don’t put yourself in an (in)box. There are a lot of creative alternatives to email that can help you to communicate more clearly, better prioritize your day, and shave serious hours off your week. Don’t be afraid to give some a shot!
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