by Karen Arena, Xerox PR

Prior to joining Xerox as a full time employee, I didn’t think much of my boss’ warning about  e-mail volume.  In my former role as a consultant to more than one client, I knew about e-mail volume.  So after her warning, I thought , “piece of cake.”  Yeah, right.  

Every day I receive about 200+ e-mails,  three phone calls, and no real mail.*

I’m thinking you’re pacing at about the same clip.

So, when you’re not doing mission critical work, are you constantly managing your e-mail? 

I hate every minute I have to.  Considering the many alternatives and organizing software available, why are we still wrestling with it?  IMHO, behavior and corporate culture are hard to change, and software only organizes the volume, not get rid of it.  A colleague wisely informed me that the less I use e-mail myself, the less I’ll get. 


So, I started a behavioral experiment:

  • I substitute e-mail with collaboration tools:  Instant Messaging, SharePoint, Twitter, Yammer and WebEx.
  • I stopped answering notes with “thank you” or one word replies.  Easy, because it annoys me  when people send them to me.
  • I respond to non-critical messages slower, or not at all if they don’t require a response.
  • I do not “cc” a bunch of folks or “reply-all” or forward messages if not really necessary.
  • I even pick up the phone to do in three minutes what would otherwise take a string of multiple messages.
  • I meet with people face-to-face.  How novel!

Was my colleague right? 

The results:  My e-mails are down about 10%  With what’s left in the inbox, I’m using @Dpereda’s “file, delete, work-on” tips.

I changed behavior and therefore spend  more time on priorities,  like promoting Xerox.

*BTW, If you really want my attention, call me, send a handwritten note, a letter or personalized direct mail.

Karen can be spotted on I-95 traveling between her home in New Jersey and her office in Norwalk, CT. Appropo, since steering the Xerox narrative is a significant part of her work, and colleagues might add that she drives them crazy too!  You can follow Karen at @arenak on Twitter.