3 Ways to Escape the Email Black Hole

by Jessica Zartler / February 23, 2016

205 billion. That’s the number of emails sent and received per day last year (The Radicati Group) - more than twice the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. If your jaw isn’t on the floor yet, that number is expected to grow three percent a year over the next four years to reach 246 billion by 2019.

Ding. Hold on. I have to pause writing this blog - I just got an email.

Where were we… did you know the average employee spends 40 percent of their work week dealing with internal email that adds no value to the business according to research by Atos Origin?

Other research from McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) says that number is even higher - 20 percent searching for information or seeking out colleagues to help with specific tasks and another 28 percent of their office hours sending, receiving, or sorting emails instead of doing their jobs. Either way, it’s about the equivalent of only beginning work of value on Wednesday.

Ding. Be right back, another email...

Those interruptions, according to researchers at Basex cost the U.S. economy alone $997 billion a year. There must be a better way… and there is. Enter project management software.

According to researchers at MGI, social technologies like PM software are still mostly untapped by most businesses. Email was created in the 1970’s, yet many companies are still using it as their main tool four decades later.

If more companies utilized social technologies like PM software, MGI estimates it could add between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion in annual value across commercial sectors - and again, that’s just in the U.S.

It’s time to take collaboration out of cryptic and convoluted email chains and into a tool that works. Here are three ways project management software can rescue you from the email black hole and take you to the magical (0) Inbox:

       1. Collaboration vs. Communication

PROBLEM: You email a question to John, and then he replies back with a message that you think doesn’t make sense. You email John again. There’s a ten minute delay between emails, and each time you get a notification he emailed, you are distracted from your work. To get the answer to one question, you’ve now written six emails and burned an hour.

Email used to be a great way to communicate. In 1978, before real-time messaging and social technologies. It’s just too slow for the pace of today’s demands. Questions need answers so work can move forward.

SOLUTION: Conversations are quicker and have more value in real time. Use Taskworld’s enterprise chat to talk one on one or to your colleagues in your department. If the question is related to a project, use project chat. If it’s a quick question on a task, ask in Task Comments. Let your communications organize themselves and stay in your flow without interruptions.

       2. Managing and Assigning Tasks

PROBLEM: Universal search in email. Spending all of your time just trying to find the information you need to not only prioritize work and your to do’s, but actually knowing who is assigned to what, when it is due and making sure that everyone who needs to know is also informed. Forgot to CC or BCC someone about something important? Which email was that? Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, huh?

SOLUTION: The elegance of project management software is in its intuitive organization. The days of hunting through your inbox are gone. Assign tasks, add followers to keep everyone in the loop, set due dates or discuss them with the group in comments, and drag and drop them on Kanban boards. The best part - checking off those little boxes when tasks are done - tick!

       3. Reviewing and Sharing Documents

PROBLEM: Imagine if you walked into a library and there were just heaps of books all over the floor, no shelves, no index. That’s kind of what it’s like when you try to run document sharing out of your inbox - not to mention file size limits. You could use a separate program that’s just for file storage, but then you're switching back and forth - again interruptions to the flow - and paying a lot more money.

SOLUTION: Having a knowledge sharing center can reduce the amount of time you spend searching for company information and files by as much as 35 percent (MGI). And when it is in the same place as your real time communications and tasks, it makes even more sense to switch from email to PM software. Stop struggling to find and share files over email and attach files instead - to tasks, review them in chat or find them all in your files tab.

What’s your inbox number at right now? Share in the comments section below or let us know on Twitter @Taskworld 

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