Did you know 89 billion business e-mails are sent in a given day? (Smashes face into desk.)


Look at that info-graphic and just weep. 89 billion business e-mails are sent per day. That’s a whole lot of “Got it, thx” or “Need that ASAP, plz.” Think about this: in 1995 or so, business e-mail wasn’t even a norm. Now we’re at a point where it appears every single person on the planet is sending 12 e-mails per day (obviously that’s not how it works; I’m just trying to put it in context). So, in the span of about 20 years, we’ve almost completely changed how the business culture works. You should pay attention to this: be short, be direct, and make a point quickly. The standard stat for “how long does my resume get reviewed for?” is six seconds; I’d imagine the standard stat for e-mail skimming is about four seconds (I have no science on this, although this thread says it can be up to 11 seconds depending on how quickly you hook the reader). Writing an e-mail over five lines long seems like a total waste of time when you consider this info-graphic, no?

Interestingly, reading and dealing with e-mail consumes about 28 percent of a given work week — but people self-rate only 14 percent of e-mails as important. So you’re spending 3/10 of your time on something that has a value proposition of less than 1/5th? Odd. It’s sad that articles need to be written explaining to you that “not all e-mails are created equal,” but before I go, a quick story: I used to work with this dude who was a total turd. Every time he’d come off a vacation (or hell, even a weekend) he’d say stuff like “I can’t be bothered for 4-5 hours, I need to clean out my inbox.” He came off a five-day vacation once and said “OMG, I have 282 e-mails.” I wanted to be a dick, so I offered to help him out (this isn’t normally how I roll, but in this case it was fun). I got over there and out of the 282, about 191 were newsletters (Chipotle, some book club, some pets club, etc.) 45 were threads from our job that were irrelevant at this point, and 10 were “morning update” e-mails (i.e. who’s running late). 282 became about 30 in six minutes. He was flabbergasted. I honestly started this blog because I think the context of things is more important than what’s really in front of you: 282 e-mails almost never — never — means 282 things you’re actually required to read, analyze, and respond to in that moment.

Ted Bauer