4 Problems with Email, and How to Change Them

Beth Beutler is the founder and executive director of HOPE Unlimited.

Face it, email is here to stay.

We tend to have a love/hate relationship with email. On the one hand, it provides us the connection, information, and even business leads we need. On the other, it is the source of some ongoing problems. But there are ways to make changes that will help. Let’s look at four.

Problem: Email takes me away from my work!

Solution: Change your attitude. Email isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s time to embrace that it’s a major way your colleagues, clients, and potential customers communicate with you. It’s fast, efficient, and a major portion of your daily business. Stop looking at it as separate from “real work.”  It’s not the enemy–it’s PART of your work. Communication, information exchange and storage, lead generation–that’s real work too.

Problem: I don’t receive responses in a timely way.

Solution: start taking a look at how YOU practice email etiquette. Are your emails short and to the point? Is there a clear call to action in the subject line? Do you give a gentle (or not so gentle if necessary) deadline after which you’ll take action regardless?

Face it, email is here to stay. We tend to have a love/hate relationship with email.


Problem: I can’t keep up with the waves of email coming into my box

Solution: in my work helping clients and others improve their email efficiency, often the first step is to identify what to do with email subscriptions. Consider apps and services (like Unroll.me or Feedly) that will collect the information you have signed up for, or start practicing incremental unsubscribing (from legitimate emails you no longer want–not spam.)

Problem: I’m afraid of losing important emails so I just keep them all in my inbox.

Solution: Design a better system to save emails. I store a lot of conversations in Evernote notebooks once I’m done with them (and honestly, rarely have to go back and search.) Some people use elaborate folder systems–which is fine IF you’ll process the emails properly.

TIP: If you respond with a courtesy such as “thanks” to important emails, at the very least the conversations will be saved in your sent file.

Yes, email can cause problems. But YOU can activate solutions with just a little thought and daily maintenance. You don’t keep your snail mail piling up in your home mailbox, do you? (I hope not.) Don’t let your electronic mail get the best of you, either.

For other tips about email effectiveness, try out my course, Forget Inbox Zero: Be an Inbox HERO.

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