Why paying too much attention to your inbox is actually a bad thing for eventprofs and what you really could be doing to manage emails more effectively.
Email is useful communication tool that any event professional cannot live without but it is easy to be swamped with emails and dealing with your inbox can be a time sucking task. According to the Radicati 2017 email statistics report, around 269 billion emails are sent per day and this is set to rise by 4% each for the next few years as companies embrace more email marketing and with communication technology is on the rise, this is not surprising. What is however, is how much of this is not actually useful. Around 49% of this figure is considered to be spam and unimportant while 2.3% of emails contain malicious content, viruses and malware. With this in mind, we consider the inbox zero trend and whether it is a practical solution for eventprofs?
What Is Inbox Zero?
Essentially, the inbox zero approach is fairly simple and aims to reduce your inbox to zero every day and keep it clear by either actioning, deleting or delegating everything you receive. It works under the premise that your inbox represents a “to-do list” of tasks and managing to keep it at zero keeps you productive and avoid those emails you have been “meaning to get around to” from clogging up your inbox and keeping you in a state of disorganization.
7 Reasons Why Inbox Zero Doesn’t Work
The inbox zero approach sounds perfect in theory and if an eventprof only had to focus on their email to-do list each day then it would of course be mastered perfectly. In reality we know the multiple jobs event professionals do every day, and wonder if stressing over your email inbox is the best approach to add to an already pressurized working life? While playing the numbers game and reaching an inbox zero every day may be personally satisfying, is it practical or even worth it for event planners to focus their time and energy on?
Emails can cause overload so it makes sense to get rid of them all right? Wrong. You’re falling into the very trap you are trying to avoid and in trying to save time, you are actually wasting it on hundreds of recipients that don’t actually deserve your attention.
As an event professional, you are potentially exposed to a higher amount of emails than many other professions due to the business need for this type of fast-moving communication and the fast-paced environment. Think about every person, lead, brand, company, supplier, attendee, social media channel or even shop that you interact with throughout your day and in your role as an eventprof, as well as those you have built up over your career. In most cases, you exchange or give out your email address freely for ease of communication but it is also possible that your contact info has been shared with “partners or associates” or that you haven’t explicitly “opted out” of sharing your details.
By addressing each and every email you receive you are opening yourself up to 51.3% of useless and potentially harmful emails that simply don’t need your attention. Even just opening them is a waste of time, especially as many can be spam or robots that can’t care less if you respond or not.
You have spent your morning working through your inbox and have reached zero, yay! Now what? In two minutes time you could receive another ten emails that will all need dealing with and processing in a moments time and there goes your perfect number. It is a never-ending stream, there will always be one more email to deal with and a constant pressure to reach that magic number again.
Is it really more important to deal with your emails than to talk to a supplier, market your event, update and discuss with a client or even have a meeting or brainstorm? If you start to prioritise your inbox number over actual work tasks you are going to struggle. While email can be a useful tool, chasing a clear inbox in essence means that you start to prioritise the spam and junk over real tasks in the quest for this illusive number. It becomes a permanent “to-do” on your list so gains much more priority than it should being compared to other tasks.
Some days inbox zero will be impossible as your workload piles up and you receive even more emails than usual because you are liaising with event staff or suppliers. If you won’t be able to make the magical zero number, you are setting yourself up for failure. Even if you achieve masses and have the most productive day, you won’t feel like it because your inbox won’t be empty and so this is demoralising. This may not be too damaging in the short term but this skewed sense of failure can create the mentality that leads to burnout as you feel you are never quite doing or achieving enough, even if you are, because you are relying on a number.
Ding - you have received an email - your inbox now has 20 emails in it rather than 0. This must be an emergency! I had better check what this is all about and deal with it now to keep on top of it before it gets out of control.
Before you know it your mind has wandered and you have abandoned whatever task you were doing beforehand in favour of checking your emails. Again. This becomes an obsession which can be very distracting.
False Sense Of Accomplishment
Just because your inbox reads zero, doesn’t mean you have completed all of the work and tasks you need to achieve during the day, but having spent all morning or afternoon tackling your inbox you probably feel ready to take a break. After which, you’ve probably got more emails to deal with. At the end of the day you are back down to zero emails in your inbox, so that’s a good day’s work right? Wrong. You haven’t actually gotten all of your work done or earnt any money and yet you feel like you should!
Follows You Home
Increased accessibility with smartphones and tablets can enable eventprofs to easily work from home but it can also allow you to be constantly plagued by the emails making it harder for you to switch off and relax. You also fall into the trap of taking on your emails outside of work so that you have more time to do your actual work while keeping your inbox zero status, but why? You are now taking on extra workload that is unnecessary and you can’t even relax and switch off at home anymore!
How Event Planners Can Better Manage Their Email Inbox
As an event planner you don’t want emails to take over your life, but inbox zero is probably not the right solution for most eventprofs to take control of their inbox. Here are some tips and alternative approaches that are more workable for busy event managers.
Inboxes have a search function for a reason and this avoids you having to scroll through all of your emails and pinpoint exactly what you need, so use it. With this easy function, it doesn’t matter if you have 100 emails or 10,000 you are still going to be able to find what you need easily regardless of the size of your inbox.
Like we said, emails are useful and essential, you just don’t want to waste time on the low-priority administration. Instead use the flagging, priority or specific tags so that you can easily highlight in your inbox those emails that need to be dealt with and not waste time or energy thinking about the rest at all. You could even have a monthly bulk delete of anything that isn’t flagged if you want to keep your inbox size down without addressing each one in particular.
If you constantly notice emails from brands or companies you aren’t interested in, hit unsubscribe and remove them from your list completely meaning you no longer have to deal with them in the future. All companies that have you on an email list have to legally give you the option to opt out of their service and not contact you so utilize this and think about all the emails you will save yourself in the future.
Turn Off Notifications
Stop checking your email every time you receive one and leave it until later by turning off your notifications completely and avoiding the distraction. Particularly if you are dealing with a high priority task you don’t need your attention taken away or your brain niggling away to check who has contacted you.
Set up a regular time to check your emails twice per day and leave it at that otherwise emails can easily take over your whole day. You could even set an auto response that let’s recipients know the times you check your inbox and alternative contact details if the issue is urgent so that you can be safe in the knowledge you aren’t missing anything important. If you want to be extra productive you can select these times as void areas or those times where you struggle to get other things done, such as on your commute or during your lunch break.
If you want to receive less email, send less or be pickier about using the service because a lot of email can come from threads you are CC’d in but not actually involved or unnecessary chats that could be done elsewhere. Use a chat service, such as Slack, or use SMS, phone calls or meetings for communicating and save emails for when you actually need them. You will find others automatically do the same which can cut down on usage and what you receive.
Always keep your emails businesslike, short and to the point. Don’t write essays of detail or get involved into chit chat as this can soon escalate and sets a bad example.
The Gmail smartphone app now has automated responses at the bottom of your emails which suggests a pre-written response. You can select it and it opens it up in an automatic reply window for you to edit and send. Utilizing this and other productivity tools makes use of your emails the smart way and avoids wasting time!
For eventprofs trying to attain inbox zero you are probably continually fighting a losing battle which isn’t worthy of your precious time. No good can come out of trying to attain the impossible with your inbox because ultimately, some emails are just not meant to be read and like with many things, once you start obsessing over the numbers it becomes hard to stop. Inbox zero encourages you to control and use your inbox more but most event professionals are aiming to use it less and to their advantage, not become a slave to anyone who wants to send you an email!