Save two hours a day with this e-mail hack

EMail Hack

The average person receives 50 work e-mails a day (I guess I’m below-average, harrumph). A quarter of the workforce, give or take, receives more than 100. E-mail is all consuming — even on a day like today, the Friday prior to Labor Day weekend, close to 89 billion business e-mails will be sent worldwide.

Take the “50” number above, and take the “100” number for 1/4 of the workforce, and round ’em off in the middle. Let’s say you get / have to reply to about 70-75 e-mails per day. If you’re a standard 40-hour worker (again, give or take), 70 e-mails a day accounts for about two hours of your workday, each day. (McKinsey, where probably a lot of e-mails are sent every day, has backed up that research.)

So, two hours a day x 5 days a week = 10 hours a week = 1/4 of your standard work week is spent answering e-mails. That’s a lot, right? (Here’s a different approach that probably wouldn’t work for most people, but eh.)

There’s a hack, though!

Most of those 70 replies are probably pretty similar things — “Great, thanks” or “I think we need to think about the strategy here” or whatever it is. As a result, you could create a series of signatures (in essence, canned responses) and simply do 2-3 clicks and send those out, rather than stopping down, typing a whole response, hitting send, and then doing the entire thing all over again.

Here’s how:

If using Outlook for Mac 2011:

  1. Hit Reply or New Email Message

  2. Click on the Signatures drop down button and then click Edit Signatures

  3. Click the plus sign button, double click where it says Untitled to name your canned response, then in the blank space to the right type out your response. Once you’re done, X out of the Edit Signatures box (responses should save automatically).

  4. Now the next time you want to send a canned response, all you need to do is click into the email body, then click the Signatures drop down button, and pick the response you want to send.

There’s more!

There’s even a guide to “Writing The Perfect E-Mail For Every Situation.”

So basically, take that latter guide, then go store 5-10 canned responses in signatures, and BAM — 2 hours a day (10 hours a week) might be down to 30 minutes a day (2.5 hours a week). All that extra time! (It’s OK, you’re probably still going to be busy.)

Final sidebar here: I considered writing an entire post about this, but I don’t know how much validity it really has. Basic question is this: why do you, personally, feel compelled to respond to e-mails? Is it to be heard? Is it because your boss is on it? Is it because you feel you have ownership of something? What’s the actual reason? I feel like if people looked deep down in themselves and figured out why they love the reply all, we could really make e-mail less of a major issue in business.

Ted Bauer