If you're one of those people who's constantly wondering why there's never enough hours in the day, you might want to keep an eye on how much time you waste checking through your email.
According to a new survey of Chief Financial Offiers conducted by staffing firm Robert Half, 17 percent of the time they spend reading and writing emails for work is wasted.
The survey found that spam is the biggest culprit, according to 39 percent of respondents, but it's not the only distraction. Other time wasters include being copied on irrelevant emails, wading through rambling messages, not too mention those messages which would be better delivered another way.
"Spam can be addressed by using filters and technology to prevent unwanted email," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. "But the other issues often boil down to good judgment."
As such, McDonald advises keeping messages “short, relevant and actionable” in order to improve the chances of your emails being read and acted on as soon as possible.
McDonald also provided six “email etiquette tips” for those who spend a significant amount of time wading through their inboxes:
1. Be cautious about who you copy. Does the person you're copying need to review the message? Is action required of them? Use "Reply All" as a last resort. Don't waste your time or the time of recipients who don't need to read the email message.
2. Go on a word diet. Efficiency and brevity should drive your approach to sending email. As often as possible, keep it under two paragraphs. Longer emails take too long to digest, and you could lose your audience.
3. Save the detective work for Sherlock. No one likes to read through a long email thread to find out what the sender wants and why you are being copied. Summarize the issue and what is needed at the top – and provide the string as background.
4. Send less, sift less. Resist the urge to respond immediately, especially if it's a request that may resolve itself without your input. Consider "email-free Fridays" for internal communication, of course allowing for email from outside vendors and customers.
5. Make the subject line count. Use a subject line that's direct and to the point. Do you need a reply? Try using "RSVP" within the first three words. Otherwise, let recipients know immediately what action is required (e.g., "For your review" or "Meeting rescheduled") so they get the gist and prioritize their response accordingly.
6. Watch your tone. Email is the equivalent of a hard-copy business memo. It's an official record and should be written with the same professionalism. Check spelling and grammar, and read it aloud to yourself before you click send. The few extra minutes of using a Grammar checker will give you another chance to fine-tune the message's content and tone.