Don't let email run your business

Phone could be a better option, says Leum Dunn, of Get IT Dunn

Don't let email run your business

The IT expert

Leum Dunn, of Get IT Dunn

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You might not realise it, but email has been around for a while now. It's gone from humble beginnings as a Cold War emergency system, to something so ubiquitous that not only my computer, but my phone, my television and my games consoles all chirp for attention every time someone sends me a message.

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Last year 90 trillion emails were sent worldwide and reported statistics suggest that between 81 - 92pc of those were unsolicited bulk email (spam). That equates to 247 billion emails sent each day, most of which were junk.

Email is now a problem.

It's a problem because email is convenient and yet it has somehow managed to maintain the nostalgic regard we have for its paper equivalent. That means that we take our time constructing email, correcting spelling and changing phrasing.

When we receive email we like to mark it for importance and sort it into folders (we even have a folder for spam!).

Our attachment to email wastes time and costs money!

In particular I'm worried by this desire to keep email. It creates a tendency to rely on it being there for future reference and that's just silly.

Hoarding email is problematic because none of the major email clients save data to the My Documents folder and the attachments (the bit you actually want in most cases) are often saved in another location entirely. As a result, your emails are rarely backed up properly, if at all.

There are ways to alleviate this issue, although none of them are foolproof.

Get out of the habit of creating folders and filing email. If it's really that important, print it and file it. Better still, save the contents into a folder within My Documents and make sure it gets backed up. You'll be surprised how much time you save when you hit delete a little more often.

Switch over to a webmail system. This way your emails are accessible from any internet connected computer you happen to be sat near (which is convenient) and they are not likely to be lost if your PC breaks down. Many of the better online systems even have calendaring functions now.

Switch to text only emails. HTML emails may look pretty, but they don't display correctly on phones or other peripheral email devices, they take longer to compose and ultimately, they cost more.

Stop emailing people in the same room/office as you!

Use the phone or arrange to meet up - you'll enjoy it more and probably find it more constructive.

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