Email takes up 23% of the average professional’s workday, according to one estimate.
If you’re a campus leader, you likely have to sift through a mountain of emails each day, writes C.L. Nikias, president of the University of Southern California, for the Wall Street Journal. Nikias shares that he averages about 300 emails per day across all of his accounts.
At that rate, even if you spend just one minute on each email, you could waste half the day on inbox management, he points out. While it’s tempting to stay glued to your inbox, effective leaders know how prioritize the conversations that matter, he argues.
To get an overflowing inbox under control, keep your emails about as short as a text message, Nikias writes. People are most likely to respond to messages between 50 and 125 words long, according to a 2015 user analysis by Boomerang. Productivity expert Chris Baily recommends limiting yourself to three sentences.
Getting rid of the fluff in your emails may be tough at first, but your colleagues will have an easier time reading your messages and be inspired to shorten their notes as well, Nikias writes.
Not every response should be distilled into a text-length email, he acknowledges. If it needs to be longer, he recommends speaking with the person directly.
Talking in person remains the most effective form of communication, he argues. If you hold consistent face-to-face meetings that allow for in-depth discussions, you can minimize the need to send emails in the first place, he adds (Nikias, Wall Street Journal, 11/29)