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January 02, 2013

E-Mail Clutter Can be Cleaned Out with the New Year

With the start of the New Year, it’s an ideal time to get a handle on the excessive number of e-mails sitting in inboxes.

On the bright side, there are some interesting new products that help to filter e-mail messages. For example, SaneBox features reminders, anti-spam mail summaries, and attempts to defer less-important e-mails. Another product is called the “Mailbox ” app. It helps to organize e-mails and also defers less-important e-mails. 

But there are more comprehensive solutions, given the long-term problem of clutter. Ten years ago, InformationWeek's John Foley reported about the “personal information glut” – largely caused by e-mail.

“It's 10 years later and we're losing the struggle between incoming information and ways to handle that information,” Information Week’s Jonathan Feldman recently commented.

Part of the reason for the large number of e-mails is the fact there are larger organizations in the economy, where employees are encouraged to send e-mails.

Feldman lists several specific reasons why there are so many e-mails sent daily. For instance, e-mails “can grab attention.”

“Even if their jobs are meaningless, they're creating something permanent when they create an email,” Feldman added. “They cover their butts by documenting every little thing.”

Email Charter recommends several steps to reduce e-mail volume. Remember that a recipients' time is valuable. Keep it short. There should be clarity and limit open-ended questions in the message. CCs can often be eliminated. There doesn’t have to be a trail of prior e-mails included in every new e-mail. Remember, too, that employees can have more in-person interactions rather than always messaging each other.

There are some related trends, too, from TMCnet’s Michelle Amodio. She noted that in a recent poll by Varonis, 43 percent of those surveyed said they either view the Internet or read breaking news when taking a work break. Some 28 percent listen to music. These are clear options to reading e-mails.

“We see a growing trend of people struggling and in some cases even giving up on – or deleting – their entire inboxes. It also appears that over-stretched employees are seeking more ways to clear their heads by taking virtual coffee breaks to browse the web or social networks,” David Gibson, vice president of Strategy at Varonis, said in the report.

Also, the shape of inboxes reflects someone’s personality, Amodio said. That impacts productivity and their work-style.

“Neat freaks will likely keep their inboxes to a minimum of unread e-mails while those furious, disorganized types might have an inbox that looks similar to a room in an episode of ‘Hoarders,’” she said. “No matter the case, what your inbox looks like 

is rather indicative of your personality.”

There are automated solutions to reduce e-mail clutter, as well.

“The only way to throw workers a life belt is by utilizing automation to help them organize, manage and prioritize their email in a way that gives them visibility over what is important, when and to whom,” Gibson said.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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