The Phenomenon of Email Overload: What You Can Do to Control The Damage

Email was a wonderful invention, perhaps more so in the 1990s than it is today. Today, even the average Joe finds himself troubled by having to respond to emails. The average business owner is hit the hardest, though, with an average of 112 emails sent and received per day. If you’re one of those people that keeps getting flooded by emails, aside from the occasional spam, you’re in for a tough awakening, starting with one question: How many hours per day do you spend actually reading and replying to emails you receive?

If you take the time to think about it, the number can be quite astounding, even if that number turns out to be only an hour per day. The truth is that, even if you don’t spend that much time today responding to emails, you might turn into the average business owner who spends one quarter of his/her entire work day replying to emails.

Why do emails take so long? There are four simple reasons:

  • Reading takes longer than listening to a conversation would take.
  • Emails sometimes can be longer than one paragraph.
  • Typing takes longer than speaking does.
  • You must think about how to express yourself, given the lack of body language and voice tone.

What if you could find an alternative to email that could drive you and your employees to faster communication and collaboration? Let’s have a look at a few ways you could replace email, or at least save time with emails, within your business’ IT infrastructure:

  • Instant messaging – Want to send something short to someone? Why not message the person? A little beep will sound and the person will reply very quickly without having to log in to an email interface.
  • Use the phone! – We’ve gotten so used to the digital age that we’ve allowed our phones to sit on our offices and collect dust! It’s time to pick up the receiver and make a quick call. As long as you don’t let it turn into a life story, you’ll be finishing that conversation before you typed your first two sentences in an otherwise boring email.
  • Use solutions like Gmail’s important messages filter – Gmail has come up with a way to filter messages by their importance. It intelligently figures out what you consider important and puts it at the top of your pile in the inbox. Outlook also allows you to flag messages as important.
  • Be brief – It might come off as rude, but writing a short email can save a ton of time. This should be a no-brainer, but the numbers are startling when you count how many emails you receive that contain more than 100 words. Encourage your employees to use the same convention when contacting you, and you’re set for shorter emails at least within your internal operations.
  • Set time frames – Answering an email as soon as it comes in eats up time throughout your day. Try setting a small window of time that feels comfortable for you in which you’d answer your emails. This also helps with keeping emails short, as previously mentioned.

The majority of this information is thanks to CEO Heinan Landa of Optimal Networks, a company that specializes in providing network and computer support to SMBs.

Remember not to allow your inbox to control your work time. Take control of your inbox, instead!

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Miguel Leiva-Gomez is the owner of The Tech Guy, a blog that presents futuristic and current news about technology with a light touch of humor, catering to the average consumer and prospective investor. Miguel has been working with computers and gadgets for more than a decade, working together with people to help them solve their problems and breaking down complex concepts into simple bite-sized pieces that the average Joe can chew.

3 thoughts on “The Phenomenon of Email Overload: What You Can Do to Control The Damage

  1. Katie Carter

    Email overload on a corporate scale is the biggest drain on productivity that there is.

    If you take the stats outlined in this blog and multiply them by the number of people in your organisation who use email the potential for wasted time and resources is shocking.

    Yet something as simple as email should not be responsible for this waste.

    Professional, company wide email training should be made available as part of staff induction and at the very least offered to all customer facing personnel.

    Ideally, email training should be rolled out company wide to ensure compliance on policy and to adhere to an agreed email policy and guidelines. are the UK’s leading provider of email etiquette training. Lead by email expert Marc Powell they offer a full service on email training.

  2. Christopher Weir

    Some sound advice Miguel. Email is a necessity in today’s world but I have to agree that it is far to often used when other methods would be more appropriate. Mass emails are a waste of time and it is far to easy for chains of emails to develop when a simple call would be  a more appropriate way to resolve the discussion. 

    We are working on a solution to Communication Overload over at Unified Inbox ( and invite anyone who would like assistance in overcoming their overload problems to give us a try. All feedback is greatly appreciated. 


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