A Simple Approach To Reducing Email Overload

A Simple Approach To Reducing Email Overload

Overflowing inboxes are a real problem, with the average office worker spending a quarter of his or her day on email-related tasks. If you want to minimise how much time is sucked away by email, follow the Asian Efficiency blog’s recommendation to end the “Email Boomerang Effect”.

The Email Boomerang Effect happens when you send out an email and you get an email back. Forward a useful article and a thank-you comes back. Boomerang. CC people who might need access to a report and several replies come back. Boomerang.

To reverse the email spiral, before you send any email, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is this email absolutely necessary?
  2. Is email the best medium?

Asian Efficiency offers a bunch of examples and details. While the two-question strategy is easy to understand, implementing it can take some work and thought. Here’s a flowchart from OnlineITDegree.net to help you decide if an email is worth sending:

The Email Boomerang Effect (One Simple Trick to Reduce Email Overload) [Asian Efficiency]


  • Ahh! I want to send this to people who e-mail me tons and tons of non-essential information! But sending this via e-mail would be walking directly into the trap that I’m trying to remove. Perplexing dilemma.

  • I’ve always been tempted to set up a rule on our exchanges erver: if an email is sent to more than 10 recipients, it will get thrown into a moderation queue to be dealt with by a manager. The cat pictures, ‘FYI’ attachments, and notes letting us know when the coffee machine is being cleaned would stop pretty fast.

    It might add a bit of lag, but if it’s that urgent it probably shouldn’t go out via email.

    (alternate scenario: any messages going to more than 10 recipients get displayed on a TV on our office wall. If it’s going to that many people anyway, why not make it public?)

  • I dunno, I’ve never really bought into this. My previous job role was almost entirely email based and due to the nature of the work, everything needed documenting/recording. I can also express myself much more effectively in writing than I can verbally, and if I want to get a succinct query across, email is almost always the way to go for me. I can explain the situation, give someone a multiple choice answer, and therefore make it as easy as possible to get back the answer that I need.

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