Many companies have introduced email bans as a means to combat email overload. Some have forbidden emails over the weekend, and others have declared certain days as “email free days”. While it seems almost counter-intuitive, these companies consistently reference the boosts in productivity associated with these new policies.
Since we here at Clear Concept provide productivity training, we thought we would give this productivity booster a try.
We are introducing a new policy called “Free-mail Fridays”. In other words, we are committing to no internal emails on Fridays. If we need to get in touch with one another, we have the option of texting or calling.
At the same time, we are in client-facing roles and we pride ourselves on providing timely responses. So we have agreed to scan our inboxes at the beginning, mid-point and end of our day. We will respond to external emails as appropriate and then resume our Free-mail Fridays policy.
There are many benefits to be gained from this, including:
- More time for top priorities: While email is often associated with important work, there are other things that we are trying to fit into our day. It feels almost decadent to think of having that time available for these other important projects.
- Encourage conversations: Email isn’t always the best way to communicate. It doesn’t allow for clarification around complex issues. It can easily lead to having messages misinterpreted. It tends to stifle inter-personal communication (which is necessary for trust and creativity). And email often leads to stalled progress when messages sit in inboxes. So instead of firing off an email to our colleagues, we are going to try something different. We are going to talk.
- Manage our addiction: Let’s face it – email is pretty addictive. Sometimes we find ourselves checking for new emails five minutes after the last time we checked. We are taking one day a week to help curb this addiction.
- Encourage us to plan ahead: Knowing that we cannot access email on Fridays requires a bit more planning earlier in the week. We need to use our time more wisely during the preceding four days and avoid putting things off (or dare I say procrastinate). We know that planning always pays off and we’re confident that this is going to save us a ton of time otherwise spent on email.
- Take a break: We know that productivity increases when we build breaks into our days. Tony Schwartz and his team at the Energy Project have countless case examples demonstrating the power of breaks. We are going to channel some of the time that we would otherwise spend on email doing some other important things like exercising and relaxing.
What could your organization do to curtail email overload? Ban it in the morning? After 6pm? On long weekends? If not, what is getting in the way? Do you think you could survive an email ban? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Or send us an email – just not on a Friday, please.