What do you spend your time doing throughout the day? If you’re like most white-collar workers in the United States, much of your time is taken up by email. In fact, the average worker sends upwards of 122 emails a day. Assuming you take 2 minutes per email, that’s more than 4 hours—half your day—simply spent on email communications.
As a technology, email has helped us advance well into the information age; we can communicate at light speed with one another, instantly sending messages half a world away, and we can organize those emails with effortless precision. But it’s not without its problems—most of us aren’t using email very efficiently, and with so many emails sent and received each day, even small mistakes and methodological errors can accumulate to hours of lost time.
Here’s the biggest problem—how can you even tell if you’re emailing efficiently or “correctly”?
EmailAnalytics, an appropriately-named new email analytics tool, is hoping to resolve that problem. The app integrates with your existing Gmail or G Suite account (and if you manage employees, your team’s accounts as well), and gathers significant information about your team’s emailing habits. These include metrics like:
- How many emails you send and receive.
- Who your most common senders and recipients are.
- How much time you spend reading and writing emails.
- How many threads you have in a given timeframe, and how long those threads are.
- How many emails and words you usually contribute to an email thread.
Alone, these may seem like quirks of curiosity; it may seem amusing to learn just how many emails you send in a day. However, once you visualize the data on your daily email habits, you’ll uncover some interesting revelations about what you’re doing right—and what you’re doing wrong.
Why Email Is a Sore Spot
If you’re wondering why email is being treated as such a focal point of productivity, consider these points:
- Volume. There are more than 100 billion emails sent and received per day, across the globe. The sheer volume of email makes it a vulnerable point for email users. Because you’ll be managing several hundred, if not a thousand emails in a week, even a delay of 1 minute per email can cause a significant lag in your productivity.
- Representation. Email is also important because it serves as a microcosm for the rest of your work. Almost everything you do in your position is tied to email in some way; it’s a method to assign tasks, give updates, coordinate with others, and report on your success. If you notice big changes in your email volume, frequency, or production metrics, it could be a sign of bigger changes in your position.
- Underutilization. Were you trained to email people effectively? Few workplaces spend any significant time on utilizing or perfecting their employees’ emailing habits, even with the prevalence of employee monitoring software. This makes email an especially vulnerable element of your work, and an ideal place for improvement.
Though it may seem like one of the least important parts of your day, email has a drastic effect on your overall productivity.
Why Visualization Is Important
One of the greatest benefits of EmailAnalytics is its ability to help you visualize your data. These are some of the reasons why:
- Intuitive analytics. Most people are visual learners; we’re more likely to understand something (and remember it) if it’s illustrated for us in some visual fashion. Seeing interactive graphs and charts is much better than combing through numbers trying to figure out what they all mean. At a glance, we can usually tell when a pattern has changed, or when something is “off.”
- Broad trends. Data visualization also helps us zoom out; rather than zeroing in on a piece of data that may or may not be an outlier, we get to see the full spectrum of our subject. Think of it as seeing the entire forest, rather than spending attention on individual trees. For email, this is especially important; you might spend lots of time on one particular email thread, but is that reflective of all your email habits?
- Explanations and demonstrations. Visualization is also an important tool when you’re working with others, like if you’re monitoring your employees’ email habits. Visual data is much easier to demonstrate and explain than strictly numerical data—and it makes a bigger impact in meetings.
Email may always be an imperfect means of communication, but it’s one of the best tools we have in the modern era—and thanks to new apps and innovation in productivity tools, it’s getting easier to gain insights into our efficiency using it as a communication medium.
Let’s hope more professionals use data tools like these to perfect their communication; the more people there are focusing on the quality and efficiency of their words, the better we’ll all learn to communicate.