Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

How To: Cut Back on Email and Save Time

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It’s pretty common for Box users to reach out to us on Twitter with feedback, questions or suggestions. Just a few days ago, one of our users asked us an interesting question about moving his team over to Box. He tweeted:

We’ve heard this story over and over again at Box – workers are frustrated with disorganized, never-ending email chains and attachments, so they decide to move to Box to centralize their content. But what do you do if your team is still buried in email and hasn’t yet made the jump to the cloud? Surprisingly, getting your team to slowly give up their email addiction is easier than it sounds. All it takes is a little dedication, some patience and a desire to be more productive. And while email will always be necessary for some aspects of every job, spending less time in your inbox and more time actually working can only be a good thing.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for getting your coworkers out of their inboxes:

1. Encourage face-to-face contact

Have you ever tried to send a “quick” email, only to have the conversation spiral into a full-blown, in-depth discussion? When this happens, it’s a lot easier to simply speak in person (or over the phone) rather than continue the conversation in your inbox. Misunderstandings are pretty common when it comes to email – why not eliminate that possibility altogether by chatting for 5 minutes? If you’d still rather not speak in-person, you can always try tip #2.

2. Use instant messaging

We’re huge fans of instant messaging at Box. It’s incredibly convenient, and for questions that need a simple yes or no response, there’s really no need to send a lengthy email. Some clients like Google Chat feature chat logging, making it easy for you to keep track of everything for later use. Using IM also encourages your coworkers to respond more quickly – a blinking chat notification is more likely to get a response right now than yet another email in their inbox.

2 Centralize your content

Spreading your content across multiple users is the easiest way to get sucked into a endless email chain. Since people are constantly passing around the most recent version of a file, no one’s sure what’s updated and what isn’t, which ultimately leads to confusion, lots of unnecessary emails and wasted time. Moving all your content online (with say, a service like Box ;) )means that your team will never have to deal with versioning problems or attachments ever again. Most of all, it means you’ll be more organized. Keeping your documents in one place is a whole lot easier than furiously searching your inbox for that document you need.

Have any other tips for cutting back on email? Share them with others by leaving a comment below. A big thanks to @fredericg for starting this conversation!

  • http://www.flowdock.com/ Otto Hilska

    Thanks Mark for the post. I think passing around Office documents as email attachments is definitely one of the largest pain points in the whole IT industry (and beyond), and Box definitely helps keeping everyone on the same page with them.

    I also tend to agree with your point about Instant Messaging, and I’ve seen that especially software development teams always use some kind of an IM tool (Skype chat, IRC, whatever). I’m a bit surprised that graphical smileys are the only “innovation” we’ve seen with the group chat tools during the last 20 years.

    We actually decided to relief our email overload by developing our own tool for it. http://www.flowdock.com/ combines the best parts of both instant messaging / group chat tools, as well as activity streams / rich integrations to other tools you might be using (like Box, wikis, project management tools, version control etc). I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

    – Otto

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  • Bob Spurzem

    I liked the article but its recommendations were nothing short of “been there done that”. Come on, recommending face-to-face meetings? That is not very original.

    I have a problem regarding email that no one is talking about – capacity. Where can I store/upload my 10gb of PST data so that I can access it from my multiple devices? Currently I am tethered to my laptop where the PST file resides.

    My organization is also pressuring me (and others) to reduce our PST storage due to legal risk. I have been saving my email for almost ten years and I have no wish to delete any of it. I would prefer being able to save it securely for my personal “multi device” access.

    • Mark Saldana

      Hey Bob,

      Great feedback! While my suggestions certainly weren’t revolutionary, you’d be surprised how many people waste hours in email chains when a 10 minute meeting would suffice.

      I’ll have to do a bit of research around your email storage question since I’ve never heard that concern before. Thank you for the comments :).

      Best,

      Mark

  • G Cutler

    Will there ever be an instant messenger tied into Box as an App? It would be useful to have an app that can relate to your project workspace (in box) rather than telling your client to download GoogleTalk…. This way we can chat to the whole project team, share links etc… without having to push emails around? Any chance?