Woman checking email on a laptop at conference table

Electronic mail- we love it, we hate it, we need it, but managing it can be difficult and costly. One of the biggest issues with email is that we as humans want to keep everything and we do, several times over. We are saving everything because we have that feeling that someday, for some reason, we might need that email or attachment. The facts are more interesting. There are an estimated 246 billion emails sent every day. The average person gets about 131 emails per day, and the average employee will spend 13 hours per week dealing with email. It is estimated that of saved email more than 99.2% of that email will never be accessed, used, or referenced again. As you can see there is a lot of email processed every day. This is why, in the corporate world, the methodology used to help individuals and organizations manage, store and archive email is such a problem.

What are some of the mistakes made when dealing with email?

What are some of the mistakes made when dealing with email? According to The Muse and Tools and Skills, the top three mistakes people make in the management of their email are: Leaving Email in Your Inbox: This is based on a 2011 Princeton study that says, if your environment is cluttered than your brain has a hard time focusing on the tasks at hand. Clutter, even virtual clutter, will negatively affect your ability to process information. It will also make you more irritable, less productive, and more likely to be easily distracted by other activities happening around you. The basic recommendation is to clean your house. Clear out the clutter. Make sure that you are deleting what needs to be deleted. Develop processes on storing relevant email with other customer information in a central repository for all client or user information. Just get it out of your inbox. Delete, Archive or File: In many cases what we see are the extremes. People who keep everything including the SPAM, or those who delete everything. There are reasons to keep email especially in the corporate world where in some cases, litigation or human resource issues can go back years. Handle it in the moment. It doesn’t take much time to think about what to do with a specific email once you have read it. Deal with it or file it. Saving it for later is not productive. It is important to find that healthy balance between corporate importance and junk. Get rid of the junk. Don’t Use Your Inbox as a To Do List: Email systems are not designed to be long term storage. Nor is your inbox designed to be used as your to do list. This is a time management issue. When you are trying to manage a to-do-list inside of your mailbox that is constantly changing, your focus wanders from the things you need to get done, to what is happening at the moment. This is caused by the clutter of your brain trying to reshuffle the priority list as new things come into your inbox. Separate the to-do-list from email and this will help you stay focused on the important tasks at hand.

Archiving VS Backups

Archiving verse backing up- these are two different functions that require different resources and they are not the same. The best way to define backups is; A backup is used for operational recoveries. So in the event of a deleted file, corrupted database or some other immediate data loss, the data files can quickly be recovered. Archiving on the other hand, is long term storage for files that shouldn’t be changed and are not typically used on a day to day basis but more of a historical record. Archiving is more about the process of searching and sorting data for a specific need. Securing an archive data is critical. Archiving is meant for files that are not changing from the original. If changes need to be made to an archived document, then changing the name or revision number should be required instead of saving over the original document.

Let’s Talk Dollars

When you are talking about the differences between backups and archiving, in many cases it comes down to dollars and cents. Historically when companies archived they would use some kind of tape storage method. Then put that as a permanent record in a safe or underground vault. This methodology did save dollars over continuous backup because following the archiving process, that data was removed and no longer backed up. With cloud-based storage or electronic data storage in a safe secure place, the cost of archiving data has gone down drastically. Yet it still allows you access to the files for business requirements or litigation. Keep in mind, that even with electronic storage within your own network, drive space is finite, so at some point you will have to add drive space. When you start considering the differences between backups and archiving it is very easy to confuse the two and or want to combine them into one. Make sure that you are using the right tool for the right reasons, but keep in mind your email system is not either of these. Backups are a snapshot of operational or production data, archiving is a long-term storage methodology. There are some great products that can effectively manage both of these processes and provide you with the long-term strategy that will provide your business with safe and secure data.

By Scott M. Lewis, President / CEO Winning Technologies, Inc.

About the Author: Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies. Scott has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with large and small business to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium and small companies and Winning Technologies goal is to work with companies on the selection, implementation, management and support of technology resources.