As the struggle to keep on top of company emails seems to grow every day, employees are trying whatever it takes to get their inbox back to normal. “Inbox zero” (as the idea has come to be known) is the attempt to reach an empty inbox, in an effort to be more productive. Hundreds of guides and training courses have been developed to assist employees in successfully sifting through their messages. These resources provide workers with ideas like dedicating a little time every day, and adding automated responses. While these kinds of management solutions can help, the relief is, unfortunately, only temporary. Unless employees are incredibly vigilant, their inboxes overflow again, creating the same overwhelming situation they just seemed to escape.
The problem with “inbox zero” is that it doesn’t take on the actual problem. Time management solutions and efficiency shortcuts are only methods of treating the symptoms of email overload. In reality, overwhelming email is a lot like an iceberg. While the issue might look small at first, most of the problem actually lies beneath the surface. Only by changing our perspective and asking questions about communication, can we understand the whole picture and create real solutions.
Let’s take a look at company emails beneath the surface, and assess how your organization can permanently achieve “inbox zero”.
The real problem with email is the way that it sends out information. Email is designed as a push system. This means that information is presented or pushed at users, regardless of their interest in it. Push methods of communication are aggressive, intrusive, and force users to engage with content. Push systems take away personal choice and require employees to make dozens of micro-decisions every time they receive a notification or open their inbox. Being perpetually bombarded with countless small choices can lead to decision fatigue, resulting in increased mental exhaustion and reduced productivity. This constant email overload makes it impossible to maintain a true “inbox zero”.
Decision fatigue is particularly likely when the need to make decisions is forced upon us. When people feel that they are not in control of a situation, they develop greater resentment and exhibit less patience. When we choose to actively participate or engage with content it becomes less of a burden as we take on more personal responsibility in the work and consequently more pride and care about the outcomes.
Push communication by nature is cluttered as it seeks to distract and divert our attention from everything else around. This attack on our focus is overwhelming and can lead to overstimulation and increased stress and anxiety, especially when it seems that our best efforts are only keeping things at bay.
So how exactly are businesses supposed to communicate effectively? Switch to a pull method of communication. Unlike push communication, where participation is intrusive and demanding, pull communication acts as an invitation. This method gives users control over their content and works based on their specific interests and needs. Users are made aware of content and invited to engage but can choose for themselves when, where and even if they interact with it. Probably the most widely used form of pull communication is social media. In social media, users decided who to follow, who can follow them, and what specific followers are allowed to see. The content is always relevant to users and users have the ability to filter content as needed.
As you might expect, the less demanding style of pull communication naturally solves most of the problems push communication generates. Pull communication instinctively reduces noise by giving you the freedom to control your environment. Increased communication control lets users remove spam and reduce unwanted messages. This ensures that relevant content will be at forefront.
An Alternative Solution
Often our natural response to a problem is to try and improve the current system when what we need is something new altogether. To reach “inbox zero”, the answer is not to manage email more efficiently, but to change communication entirely from a push driven platform to a pull-driven solution. There are many collaboration software tools that can offer your company a platform for pull communication. These tools take the kinds of communication that typically happen over email and allow users to control what, where and how they participate with it, making it more effective, understandable, and engaging.
Excessive emails, wasteful meeting and disorganization are three of the biggest hindrances to employee productivity. With collaboration software, users can follow and comment on any number of different company groups, projects, or teams. Having designated areas for specific content keeps information clear and organized and makes collaboration and teamwork easier. Employees can join and leave groups as needed so that they are only in the loop on relevant information. Project, group and team areas also provide specific spaces for regular updates and status reports reducing the need for long or excessive meetings and making existing meetings more focused and productive.
Personalized Newsfeeds & Dashboards
Personalized newsfeeds and dashboards provide the perfect location to share company announcements that would typically be found in email. Shared content can be pinned to a dashboard, generated into a to-do list or turned into a calendar event all within the same program, allowing employees to see and save for later only the specific content they need. Calendars built into the software show personal, team and company schedules, making planning and meeting much easier. Events and reminders can also be automatically created, reducing the need to send out extra emails.
The Real Inbox Zero
When the idea of inbox zero was first introduced by Merlin Mann, his idea was actually about finding focus and peace of mind, rather than actually emptying an inbox. Mann said that inbox zero didn’t refer to the number of messages but rather the amount of time your mind spent worried about your inbox. Mann was trying to assess what was wrong with email communication and identify what needed to be changed. Unfortunately, as his idea spread, it was lost in an avalanche of easy answers and quick fix symptom treating ideas. But the workforce is ready for a real solution.
At MangoApps, we’re ready to help businesses both literally and mentally reach the real inbox zero.
MangoApps – A True Inbox Zero
MangoApps allows employees to send targeted and personalized messages to anyone in the organization, from any device, without the distractions or frustrations of an inbox cluttered with SPAM or irrelevant messages. Because all of the interactions happen internally, your organization can rest assured, knowing that employees are communicating safely and securely, while avoiding phishing or other malicious threats that come with email. Productivity is also boosted with built-in calendaring, notes, and to-do lists. MangoApps aims to widely replace email inboxes for internal-facing employees while improving the way that businesses and employees interact.
To see why your organization can ditch email, or to learn more about MangoApps, contact us to schedule a demo today.