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26 Apr 09 E-mail, Gmail and Productivity

When e-mail came around it was a major productivity booster. The speed of message delivery took the world by storm, the wait time between sending and receiving of a message had been reduced to mere couple of seconds from its original couple of days. And as the exchanges sped up so did the speed of work and the productivity went through the roof. E-mail looked like the perfect solution for any business communication, and a perfect time saving device. This was early 80s through early 90s.

Fast forward couple of decades and many more e-mail (now web mail) providers will appear on the horizon offering free e-mail services, but instead of doubling the productivity, the e-mail has now slowed the process down. People are more engrossed in the tool, and e-mail is no longer a mean to an end, it has become an end in itself.

E-mails have become an addiction, and people started getting confused between sending and receiving mails, and real work. The more e-mails a person reads and writes the more fake-sense of accomplishment he gets. Now the problem is over communication, not the lack of it. In the changed situation, close to 90 percent of the mails in any mailbox are either forwards or useless newsletters. These newsletters still get delivered only because you do not have time to unsubscribe from them.

A disciplined approach to e-mail is required. The first step you can take towards using e-mails to increase your productivity is to de-clutter your inbox by creating appropriate filters. Every e-mail provider as well as every e-mail client has in-built filter option, but very few people use it to their advantage. Creating a well-defined filter will keep not-so-important mails away from your immediate attention.

Next thing you can do to increase your productivity is to changes couple of things in your e-mail usage behavior as well. You can start with changing the frequency of checking e-mails. Limit this frequency of checking your mail to twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening at least after seven hours of real work. This will help you focus your attention on the task at hand, and will save you from wasting time in replying the mail as soon as it come. Let the problems, issues and complains of clients wait for a while. Another thing you need to do in this direction is to keep the outgoing e-mails short and succinct. This will not save your time only, but it will also save the recipient’s time. Keep in mind, no one likes to read long e-mails, so keep the niceties out of e-mails, and be straight forward.

Gmail is a great help in this battle between productivity and e-mail behavior. I like Gmail because it has some great productivity enhancing features, like a very strong and intuitive filter, and searching for a specific mail in Gmail is as fast and accurate as is searching for information on a particular keyword in Google. You can also customize Gmail using XML according to your need.

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Tags: Accomplishment, Business Communication, Couple Of Days, E Mail Services, , Forwards, Free E Mail, Free Mail, , Mail Client, Mail Provider, Mail Providers, Mail Usage, Message Delivery, Perfect Solution, Perfect Time, Productivity Booster, Usage Behavior, Wait Time, Web Mail

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