You know the drill: filter for the high priority items, forward emails to colleagues to follow up on, swiftly compose an answer to a question from a client. All this resulting in that satisfying feeling of an empty inbox at the end.
It feels productive... but it’s not. So, what’s wrong with email?
Filtering emails makes you unproductive
With a coffee by your side and your hand on the mouse, you get to work - eyes fixed on the screen. You open your inbox, scan through the list of names and subject lines. Soon you find yourself buried in an avalanche of potential problems, exciting challenges, new opportunities and simple to-do lists. Your mind is processing so much new information and input, that after one hour of emails you feel mentally exhausted. And then the work on those high priority items is yet to begin.
You sabotage your colleagues by forwarding emails
The emails that you forward internally interrupt your colleagues’ concentration. A study by the University of California shows that employees are interrupted every 3 minutes on average, and that it can take up to 23 minutes before they get back to the task they were working on.
Even writing short emails is time consuming
Composing an email, regardless how short it might be, often takes up more time than you think. Why? You always need to add some context to your remark or question. An email to a client stating ‘send me the depreciation chart’ isn’t just impolite; without some extra information the client won’t know what you mean.
3 tips to decrease the amount of email as an accountant
An ‘email detox’ - sounds appealing, right? But how does one put that into practice? Not checking your email simply isn’t an option as good communication with your clients is of the utmost importance.
1. Schedule time for your inbox
On average we check our inbox 36 times per hour. Thirty-six times. Most productivity experts agree that scheduling two moments in the day for your email is sufficient.
2. Multitask less
Going through your emails causes you to work on multiple things at once. Start your day by working on one specific project of your choice. This creates clarity and direction. The project can be expanding the budget for client x, reviewing the preparation for a meeting or reading application letters for that open position in the accounting firm.
3. Make an online project environment
Creating an online project environment is often recommended for working together effectively with colleagues and clients. An example of such an online project environment is Basecamp. With such a project management tool, you’re able to work together in the same documents, plan tasks and add comments and messages.
Is there an online project environment for accountants?