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10 Astonishing Email Habits
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Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2015 | 7:29:48 AM
Two minutes?
Two minutes is a pretty average time I think. I have two windows open all day to my email accounts, though I turned off notifications on my phone as when I'm done for the day I'm not answering any emails until morning.

I think that's the healthy way to do it, otherwise you're constantly grabbing your phone and can never switch off. 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/15/2015 | 8:58:33 AM
Re: Two minutes?
Your Dead Thread one is an interesting one when it comes to business email, David. Often you hear time management advice along the lines of "only check email x times a day." But when a thread takes off, that's when the energy is there, and if you miss the wave, it can be tough to bring anything to the discussion. 
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2015 | 2:45:16 PM
Re: Two minutes?
It's really hard to control how long you spend on email on day to day basis. Especially for management people - the managers rely on email quite a lot even though we have other convenient communication method available.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
4/16/2015 | 11:02:02 PM
Re: Two minutes?
LiTan, is that because managers like to have a paper trail? They go down the hall, talk to their people, instruct them on things, make certain decisions ... there is no proof. But if this all goes down in an email chain, with appropriately CC'ed parties, everyone knows what was decided, and if people forget, these emails can be dredged back up.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2015 | 8:34:23 PM
Re: Two minutes?
@Broadway - Agree, agree, agree.  Much of it is CYA purposes - sad isn't?  Like in Office Space.  "My only motivation is not to get harrassed."

Documentation can redeem onself (or not).
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2015 | 8:39:11 PM
Re: Two minutes?
@David - I'm like Pavlov's dogs when I hear a new email ding.  I can't help myself.  I must look.  The suspense kills me.  I must know what it says.  Maybe it's lifechanging.  Maybe my life will be better if I read THAT email.

And most times, I must answer immediately.  I must get that off my list of things to do.  But all that does is give me MORE to do because until that email is answered, there's a brief work stoppage.  Replies beget replies thus creating more work!
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2015 | 11:51:40 PM
Re: Two minutes?
vnewman, there is some crazy research on the problem of interruptions in the workplace --- something along the lines of it taking on average 40+ minutes (or something ridiculous) to resume a task after an interruption. According to that, it sounds like you never get back to the task at hand!
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
4/21/2015 | 1:15:11 AM
Re: Two minutes?
@Broadway0474- I'm with you. Depending on the task, it can be a longer derailment than the time it takes to look at the email. You have to get back into the mindset and restore certain things into short term memory.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
4/21/2015 | 1:30:59 PM
Re: Two minutes?
@Broadway - exactly.  It's completely counter-productive.  Sadly, the IS Manager of our group promotes this kind of distraction by requiring us to respond within minutes to emails from her and certain other groups.  

I can't ever really focus fully on a task - because I always need to be on alert for an email either at my computer or on my phone.  I do have some "alerts" set up through Outlook to help parse out what I need to pay attention to but that doesn't help me when I'm on the floor using my mobile.  I don't really think this a great way to work, but it's not my show, so...
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
4/17/2015 | 11:01:55 PM
Re: Two minutes?
@whoopty I agree with you. We used configure email in to our phone for easy access. By the way what will happen if you receive an urgent email?
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2015 | 9:13:03 AM
I agree, 2 minutes sounds right
Keep in mind this isn't business, David - it's personal. Most smartphones now have access to Gmail. Hotmail, and Yahoo mail 24/7 with push notifications. If an email comes in, you see it instantly. Also, these were specific conversations with someone via email - really no different from a text message. You see who it is, decide to reply and go on your day. It doesn't require a lot of time or attention. My wife frequently converses with me via text while cooking and taking care of kids.
Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
4/15/2015 | 10:11:46 AM
Yahoo
Unless Yahoo is going to use the results of this research, was this really the best use of time and resources for a struggling company?
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
4/15/2015 | 10:51:45 AM
Re: Yahoo
Yahoo has in the hundreds of millions of e-mail users.  It's in their best intrests to know what their patrons are doing.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2015 | 6:54:33 PM
Re: Yahoo
Of the three email systems still popular, Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo, Yahoo has the worst interface and a high inability to do good message handling. I'm leaving out AOL mail, because I can't remember it anymore....

Lotus Notes was always the best -- still is, at IBM and other places
KJENSEN3760
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KJENSEN3760,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2015 | 11:44:32 AM
Email Use
I found the summary results expressed to be consistent with what I've observed over the past 30-some years when I began using email in 1984 while in the military working on special computer projects. Even in the early years of email use primarily in the government sector people treated email nothing like the electronic version of letters that they were designed to be, they neither paid attention to grammar or proper sentence structure and certainly not spelling--so began the texting form of communication before phone texting ever came into existence.  Since I began my early military experience in communication and signal analysis predating 1984 we had our own form of "texting" between operators using teletypes and, of course, the military used a lot of acronyms (actual acronyms which the private sector in business seems to have no concept of).

It seems to me that the very application and habits in email used in their personal emails people have applied to their business communications.  When typed (hard copy) business correspondence was done there was at least some methodology applied to ensure that it didn't go out without some kind of scrutiny of the content before others received it.  But when email proliferated the written form of communication it seems that any caution or scrutiny to ensure a professional content went out the window for presumably the sake of a more timely response.

When it comes to communication today people don't seem to care about the journey or the story behind the headline, they prefer the headline or byline more than how someone came to that conclusion or rather their thought process.  We prefer making assumptions to get to our conclusions rather than knowing what someone's thinking might be--let alone any related facts, if there are any.

Shorter or more brief communication doesn't necessarily translate into more effective communication--only faster communication, something the study apparently wasn't designed to necessarily show.  I would say that our communication habits through technological advances hasn't necessarily improved or become better, at least from my experience.  I think I will be sharing some of the study's findings with my other senior managers since it seems to support what I've been trying to impress upon them while preparing the next generation of business leaders and managers within the company.
dried_squid
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dried_squid,
User Rank: Moderator
4/15/2015 | 2:39:18 PM
thanks yahoo
    Thanks yahoo. Disclaimer: I do not work for yahoo. I do not own stock in yahoo.

    I do yahoo.mail and flickr. I pay. Forget when I started. I've been online since CompuServe and the 8086.

    I'm older, a boomer. I use emails for letter writing - 250 words or more. Before the internet and email, I wrote fountain pen letters to my mommy and my unrequited love. I don't twit. My cell does not have internet.

    I like the way the study was structured. Thanks for the background information.

    I see email+internet+hypertext as today, and the future. I learned HTML and CSS and do plain text emails, as well as zips of small hypertext docs, 5 or 6 files - *.html, *.css, *.jpg, and/or *.pdf. To me it's cheap, portable, and reusable. I don't understand why more people don't spend a few hours to learn how.

    I also do hamburgers at home. And I go out, both plastic tray and white tablecloth.

    I'm not an el cheapo, an environmentalist, or a Luddite, but to me, email+internet+hpertext is low dependancy, long lasting, and local archives which are easy to search. So ... why not?

    As for longer, later responses. I don't care - to me, at least it's a step up from lurking.

 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/15/2015 | 4:30:23 PM
email
Email remains the best app ever, even though I get too much of it.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2015 | 6:50:11 PM
Re: email
>> Email remains the best app ever, even though I get too much of it.

 

Amen!
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2015 | 8:54:23 PM
Re: 10 Astonishing Email Habits
Like you said, Dave, this is a mix of surprising and not-so-surprising facts. Maybe that it takes us about a day to answer most e-mails, or that young people text faster than old, is taken for granted - but the sheer size of the survery is what makes it valuable. It's not limited to this or that segment, and it's a noticeable difference across huge numbers of people. I browsed through the full study, and there were a few other tidbits in that category - for example, people respond more slowly and with fewer words to e-mails received on the weekend vs. weekdays and also ones received in mid-day vs. in the morning. To your concerns about whether this included business use, I'd wager a lot of that is workers trying to keep work out of their hair on weekends (and when they're itching to get home). Again, not the most startling revelation, but it paints a picture of the way people are still using e-mail today.

A couple of other things; As for the short length and quick response times listed here (which, you're right, one would think are more for SMS), I do have some friends that insist on communicating through e-mail this way. They don't user Twitter or Facebook - but, I'll admit, I find them as much of an anomaly as you do. I do get the impression that e-mail is used this way more commonly for quick communication with friends in lots of Asian (and maybe European) cultures - did the Yahoo study only cover American customers? I also appreciate the perspective from KJENSEN and dried_squid, and you guys are right; This study says nothing of how satisfied people are with what they got/get out of those quick responses, or how productive those ten-e-mail-long threads actually were. I would definitely like to know all of that, but I suppose it's a little outside the purview of this study.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
4/17/2015 | 11:08:21 PM
5 Words?
5 words reply, this is unbelievable. In my experience I used to receive paragraphs and paragraphs as a reply.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
4/17/2015 | 11:13:22 PM
Re: 5 Words?
All in all this is an interesting article. It just clicked my mind that, these are the tasks that we do on a day to day basis. However I am surprised with the numbers. 
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2015 | 8:44:09 AM
My more than 47 words reply
Having a real email client open 24/7? Yes, I do and it is set to get emails off the various servers every 15 minutes. I do not have a cell phone and I rarely give out my phone number, email is the best and most preferred way to get in contact with me. Response time varies depending on who sends me a message. Some I can and need to reply right away, but most sit there for a few days and plenty of messages do not end in a response. If there is no request for comment I do not see why I should give my 2 cents. That is my reason why a good chunk of emails are left unresponded to. Another reason is that I often get several emails from the same person. I tend to respond to all those messages in one response, but not if it is for business because there it does not help merging threads. If I want to boil an egg I get up and do that. I reserve the right to be not available for hours. Put that in your pipe you smartphone hogging folks!

Short responses...yes, but it depends who I am conversing with. I know of SMS, but SMS is by far more expensive than email and there are no free SMS services for desktop. See above, I refuse to spend hundreds each month on a data plan for a smartphone, too expensive of a toy. I do appreciate and typically add a proper thank you and address, but especially at work with mile long email threads I think we can do without it. We all know that we each appreciate the others contributions, but there are better ways to express that than a reply to all "Thanks! Have a great weekend!"....especially when it is early on a Thursday! Cutting out the niceties is not a matter of disrespect and lack of appreciation, it just keeps the email volume down. As nice as a 'thank you' is there is no additional information conveyed by it. If you think I did a great job send a note to my boss.

Most of my responses are more 47k words long. I constantly get dinged for not being concise enough. Others who email me are very concise and I constantly have to email them back to give me more details and above all context. Maybe it is just because I am old? Nah! It is because I know that others have gazillion things going on and it would be rather obnoxious to assume that they know what I am talking about when I write "I disagree with 2.1, it should be moved to its own dialog or be its own tab." So I add more context, but often get a response  "Agreed!". Great that you agree with me, but to what? The dialog or the tab proposal? Being concise is fine as long as the response still contains information rather than just data.

Kids are smart, email has so many benefits that are not matched by any other communication platform. And you can attach or (although I hate it) embed content other than text. Try that with SMS or tweets.

Email will be around and do well for a long time. It is easy to use, very versatile, very easy to index and search, very simple to pass on to others, easy to archive, and above all accessible from almost any platform and dirt cheap.



kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2015 | 12:22:03 PM
email response
The five word email response is all me. Usually when I get an email that needs something, it comes in the form of an attachment, so my emails are something like. "Thanks, I'll get on that." or "Here's the changes you needed."

 

I kind of get the two minute reply. When you are waiting on a response for something that leaves you stuck until you get the information from the other person, you're checking email constantly until it comes up. But it almost sounds like the new relationship obsession of always being in contact with the other person.


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