Updated: Jan 3, 2021
Depending on which set of statistics you look at, you might be spending a long time on email. Some of those numbers include:
office workers receive at least 200 messages a day and spend about two-and-a-half hours reading and replying to emails - Forbes.com
average person checks his or her email upwards of seventy times per day - HBR.com
add unnecessary emails to unnecessary commuting and unnecessary meetings and you are apparently spending 51% of your work day on these three tasks alone - inc.com
Apparently the number of emails lawyers are dealing with are increasing. According to this information, lawyers went from managing approximately 11,000 emails during 2013, to receiving, reading or sending more than 17,000 emails in 2015. It is difficult to find any statistics on Australian lawyers, but I think we can all agree that we deal with too many emails. To be fair it isn't just a problem for lawyers, or for family law, but for most professionals. This site even gives you a calculator to figure out how much time you are actually spending on emails.
Why does it matter?
Most of the emails actually aren't productive, many of them aren't assisting you, but all of them take some physical time and emotional energy for you to deal with. This is really an extension of the article that I shared last week in the Flexible Family Law Facebook group titled 'Sweat the small stuff'. We work in a stressful industry, you should be looking at the large structural stressors, but those are hard to change. What many people forget to look at is the small repetitive issues, which are actually easier to reduce.
It isn't just a question of saving time to do income producing work, there is also the issue of your stress levels. You aren't imagining it, dealing with a high volume of emails is actually stressful (read more here, or google email is stressing me out).
You should start by looking at how many emails you actually send and receive in a day. Don't take my word (or the word of the articles I have shared above) for it, check it for yourself. I went through this process and found that I was actually doing less emails per day than I thought (61 for me), mostly because our work has started using Slack and Asana so we are doing far less of the internal office memo style emails. However, if I assigned one minute per email that was still an hour a day (I also only work part time).
I personally don't think emails are important enough for an hour of my time each day and so I do think it is something I should look at.
How do I measure it?
If you use Microsoft Exchange for work then it is already counting your emails for you, you can find out how many you send and receive by following these instructions. If you use Gmail then unfortunately they no longer share those numbers with you, but you can follow these instructions to get a rough number for yourself.
I would recommend doing all of your email accounts, personal and business. Have a Marie Kondo style audit, put all your emails out on the table and ask yourself, do I really need this many emails in my day? If you know how big the actual problem is then you will know how much time you should devote to fixing it.
This week we will have a series of posts on emails, why are they stressing you out and what can you do about it? But we are starting first with this baseline question, how big is the actual problem? Not, how big is the problem for other people, how big is the problem for you? This will help you when we discuss solutions, short cuts or alternatives to email during the week.
If you want to follow along with this week's email audit and solutions you can either join us in our Flexible Family Law Facebook group here, or you can join our mailing list to get all the information here.
Financial disclosure without the email
Are you sick of financial disclosure that is a mess of emails and unnamed or poorly named attachments?