Do you feel overwhelmed every time you open your email inbox? You're not alone. We have mixed feelings about email as a form of communication. We appreciate the convenience and efficiency it provides while remaining frustrated around the low-security measures and risk of receiving spam or phishing emails.
In order to keep up with modern demands, email providers need to look at ways of safeguarding their users, and at the same time, we must look at emerging alternatives that can offer us better collaboration and end-to-end encryption.
The first email was sent in 1971 by a computer programmer called Ray Tomlinson. Since then, email communication has changed dramatically, with new developments and technologies increasing speed, security, and usability. It is estimated that more than 6.7 trillion emails have been sent since that first communication.
Figures suggest that more than 293 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2020 alone. This number is expected to increase to somewhere around 347 billion per day in 2023. And with email figures growing at the rate they are, what will these numbers look like in 2024 and beyond?
On average, we each receive somewhere in the region of 120 emails per week, although this varies depending on the industry we work in and the role we play in an organisation. Anyone working within a marketing or sales role would expect to receive far more emails than those working in other industries. That’s an awful lot of information to process and digest and it’s no surprise that email fatigue is becoming more and more prevalent in the modern workplace. Between regular work emails, newsletters, promotions, and messages from friends and family – it’s easy to see how a standard inbox can quickly become overloaded and bloated, and something we dread opening.
And even when we get time away from the inbox during weekends and holidays, how long does it take to sift through the mountain of information that is waiting for us when we return?
Emails were designed to be an effective way for us to connect, communicate and collaborate with clients, colleagues, friends, and people all over the world quickly and efficiently. They shouldn't be a hindrance or something that wears us down.
The biggest culprit for clogging up our inboxes is 'spam' or junk mail. Spam emails are unsolicited or unwanted emails, usually sent in bulk to a large group of people. These messages tend to be sales-based but some of the more dangerous mail can contain malicious links or phishing attempts that can be used to distribute malware or commit fraud. Spam is not only an annoyance to receive but it can also lead to increased costs for businesses.
Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, HSBC, and Barclays have all been impacted recently by phishing email outages. Other organisations, including government departments and educational institutions, have seen their email systems blocked or filtered by security systems due to being sent malicious links and attachments in large volumes on a daily basis.
The term 'spam' for unwanted and unsolicited emails originated from a 1970 Monty Python sketch in which a restaurant serves Spam in increasingly large quantities. This sketch led to the term 'spam' being adopted to describe large quantities of emails.
According to Symantec, an estimated 137.2 billion spam emails are sent every single day.
Putting aside spam emails, another common cause of email fatigue is the sheer number entering our inboxes on any given day. Not every email requires immediate attention (or maybe any attention at all) and yet we somehow feel obligated to respond to them almost as soon as we receive them.
Without an efficiently organised system to deal with them, emails can pile up quickly and become disorganised – leading us to spend far too much time searching rather than actually responding to an email thread. One way to avoid this is to organise your inbox into folders based on top-level topics such as ‘work’, ‘personal’, ‘promotions’ etc., allowing you to quickly access them when you need them.
The way we handle our responses to emails also has an impact. It may be tempting (especially during busy periods) to just delete unimportant or irrelevant messages without reading them properly or to respond to them hastily without considering how the response will be received. The latter could lead to misunderstandings down the line, which in turn can add additional stress. Take a few extra moments each time you check your inbox and read messages carefully. Try to give yourself enough time to take in all the information and then craft thoughtful responses, rather than hastily written ones.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails then remember – it’s okay not to answer them all immediately. Set aside specific times to check your inbox, such as first thing in the morning or just before lunch. This way, emails won't be constantly on your mind and you’ll also be freeing up your time for dealing with any pressing matters.
You should also consider your own email-sending habits. Is the email you’re about to send actually needed? Could a quick phone call clear up the issue or resolve the problem? If you’re more efficient with your own emails, your work colleagues may well follow suit.
If it's not essential to have a work email app on your mobile phone or tablet, then you can consider uninstalling it. An inbox that is pinging notifications, at all hours of the day, can be overwhelming. If it’s not practical to uninstall the app, then limit the time you monitor your inbox out-of-hours. You'll be surprised how much this will help.
Make sure you unsubscribe from any emails that you no longer want to receive. This will prevent your inbox from getting clogged up with messages you don't need or care about. Sometimes we allow these types of emails to keep hitting our inboxes because we signed up for them initially but they now no longer hold any interest. Unsubscribe. You can do this easily by scrolling down to the bottom of an email where there should be a link to opt out of further communication.
Don't forget to delete unnecessary messages after they've been answered or dealt with in order to keep your inbox tidy and organised.
You can also take advantage of email settings such as delay sending, or scheduling. This will allow you to send at a specific time in order to prioritise tasks more effectively. This ensures you can be more strategic with where and when your energy is spent throughout the day. Many email services have features that let you schedule messages for later, as well as pause incoming emails.
If you're looking to reduce email fatigue or cut it out entirely, take some or all of the following proactive steps:
Email is unlikely to be superseded anytime soon but we would expect more robust security measures, designed to protect users from malicious threats, to be introduced. Investments will be made in more advanced anti-phishing technology, improved authentication methods, and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that can detect suspicious activity.
Despite the prevalence of phishing emails, people are still using email to communicate on a daily basis. However, many organisations and individuals have begun to move away from traditional email services in favour of more secure messaging solutions such as Signal, WhatsApp, and Slack which offer end-to-end encryption.
Creative and collaborative teams in particular have embraced more organised and filtered systems, such as Oppolis Cloud, free from external spam and sales messages. Microsoft Teams and Zoom, for example, allow for collaboration to take place over video calls and in chat groups rather than via email.
These platforms don't completely eliminate the risk of receiving malicious emails, but they do provide an additional layer of protection for users, and they also allow for team collaboration to be taken out of the inbox. Freeing up valuable head space.
With Oppolis Cloud, users can manage all communication related to a creative project free of bloated inboxes filled with intrusive spam or unwanted messages.
Collaboration between teams, clients and stakeholders, freelancers, and any external suppliers is never lost in the clutter. Every comment thread or discussion is related to the project at hand and so there'll never be the need to trawl through email chains looking for content, updates, or attached files again.
Every piece of communication is connected and sits in a single location with the Oppolis Cloud dashboard.
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