Who’s the Real Time Killer – Email or Us?

It’s incredible how much clarity one can achieve just by taking one week off with no phone signal or Internet access. For example, we might realize that we are not sending more than two essential emails per day. But how about the rest, you may ask, how comes they aren’t important? Well, that’s a good question – and the answer may lie where you expect it the least.

I did my best to prepare my clients that I will be gone for a week with no phone signal or Internet. To their honor, none of them experienced crisis communication or anything else that required my utmost presence and advice. Even so, I was concerned. What will happen when I come back? How will I handle the flood of emails that will expect me when I return? Based on an average working day, I was expecting anything between 800 and 1200 e-mails. Surprise: when I came back, roughly some 180 mails were expecting me. What astonished me was their content. Out of 180 mails, some 120 were news, newsletter subscriptions and alerts that could be deleted with no significant content loss. Some remaining 30 mails were Google Alerts related to my clients that could be read within minutes. In the remaining 30 mails, more than a half was administrative work – pay that, remember that, register there etc. Done in about an hour. So, we remain with some 15 essential emails within a week that require a thoughtful reply. Just think of that: it averages at roughly 2 essential emails per day.

As I was replying to these e-mails, I became aware of something else. When I was writing, I was basically pushing the communication onwards, asking for more info and more reply. Practically, I was asking for trouble: a longer email from the same person would hit my e-mail box soon, forcing me to go back to the entire communication thread and deal with it over and over again. Wouldn’t it have been simpler to just grab the phone and make a simple call that would have clarified everything in less than three minutes? Sure, but e-mails – oh, what a sweet addiction.

Just 15 years ago e-mails were rare. People were spending much more time on the essence of their work and in human interactions – boring sometimes, sure, like endless board meetings, but nonetheless human interactions. Therefore the quality of their interpersonal communication and relationships at the workplace must have been different than today. That’s why I am not surprised that many of my clients complain about internal communications in the first place. Lack of clarity, lack of human touch, feeling of being ignored or assaulted with tons of unnecessary emails, and above all the feeling of meaningless and time wasted on processes that generate nothing. Such as writing an email that is basically doing nothing but asking for another e-mail, entangling an avalanche of content-empty, emotion-empty, often counterproductive communication.

It we truly valued our time and relationships and put efficiency on top of our priorities, we would write less emails and talk more to each other. Somehow I’m conviced we would all be happier, and that not only during the holiday season.

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The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.
Cristina Muntean
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Let's Talk

The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.