MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
August 2011
The Efficient Organization


Email Wizardry


Email fills a genuine business need and in many respects, email has become "the" primary method of communication within and between businesses and individuals alike. It is no wonder then that email can have a tremendous impact on individual and organizational productivity. It all comes down to how you handle your email.


First of all, don't keep checking your email every second! Email interruptions (and interruptions in general) usually require about 15-20 minutes to get back to what you were doing in the first place, so if your email is constantly open and you've got the email notification in front of you all day long, it doesn't take long to have your work day consumed with nothing but email. Instead, close your automatic email notification and schedule set times each day to check and respond to your email, just like you do with any other project work or meetings.


To get your inbox to zero items each day (yes, I said "zero"), practice the "BFAT" rule: Bring forward, File, Action or Toss. The key is that as soon as you've opened an email, you must apply BFAT to it immediately. You must not return it to your inbox under any circumstances! It's the accumulating email in inboxes that can add stress to an already busy day: So after you've opened an email, here's a simple way to keep your inbox clear: 

  • Bring forward - if the email needs a thorough response and you don't have the time right now, here's how to handle it:
    • Immediately respond to the recipient and tell them you'll respond to their request at a later date (specifying a time for response is very helpful for both the recipient and you - recipient because they will then know when to follow up and you because you can schedule time to work on the response and don't have to think about it in the meantime - remember to use lists as I discussed in last month's Extreme Profits Newsletter).
    • Now flag the email for follow-up (in Outlook, you can use flags and reminders).
  • And MOVE the email out of your inbox and into one of your personal email folders (you do have personal email folders set up for projects, committees, etc. don't you?).
  • File - if the email requires no response, but you need it for reference, MOVE it out of your inbox to one of your reference folders. And forget about it.
  • Action - if the email needs a quick response, (under a minute), respond to it and DELETE it from your inbox. Don't worry, it's not gone forever. If you ever need it again, you'll find it in your "Delete" folder.
  • Toss - if the email does not require any action on your part and you do not need it for reference purposes, DELETE it from your inbox.



It is estimated that executives send and receive an average of about 105 messages per day. Of this, about 20 percent is spam or "graymail" (i.e., unwanted newsletters or notifications). Approximately 70 percent is 'quick response' email leaving only 10 percent that require either filing or bring forward. You can use the BFAT rule with a few or hundreds of emails each day. In all likelihood, only a small percentage of emails will require a "Bring forward" and most emails can be responded to quickly and then deleted from your inbox.


And here's another tip to reduce 25-75% of your email checking each day - set up rules to automatically move emails on which you have been copied (those emails where your name is in the cc: line) to a separate folder that you have created. Also, use categories to save time in searching and categorizing related emails (e.g., relating to a project, committee, etc.). And when you're on vacation, delegate your important email to your subordinates so you can work on your tan!


Pursuit of Profit


Savings in a CloudClouds


A 2009 Forrester Research survey revealed that executives believe that email costs between $2 and $11 per user per month, with the majority guessing $10. The reasons for this estimate included: "Our system is fully depreciated," "Hardware and support are in someone else's budget," and "We get email for free in our enterprise client license."


However, add in costs of staff, maintenance, storage, archiving, mobile email, and financing, and you'll realize that the fully loaded cost of email is much higher.


Solution: Cloud-based email is cheaper, even for mid-sized companies.


Comparing an organization with 5,000 email users, on premise email costs are $28.22 per user whereas cloud-based email is $27.24 (a savings of about $5,000 per month). But the benefits of hosted delivery go beyond cost. For instance:


  • Cloud-based computing can rapidly incorporate new users (hours instead of days)
  • Your company's valuable IT professionals can use their time to do more business-centric projects instead of managing email
  • Email software and configurations are run without upgrade hassles
  • The burden of upfront capital expenses are shifted to ongoing operating expenses since with cloud computing, you pay as you go.


Note that the growth rate in the number of emails sent and received each day is slowing down due to the rapid rise in other forms of communications, particularly instant messaging (IM) and social networks. It's safe to say that electronic communication, as a whole, will continue to demand organizational resources. How the organization handles this demand will impact its bottom line.


In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

If you need something done, then give it to a busy person. Busy people get into a certain rhythm that keeps them motivated, and they manage to get things done because they are better organized, know how to set priorities and are therefore highly productive. Busy leaders are productive leaders. If you're not busy and productive, then maybe you're in the wrong job. IMHO.


"It is not enough to be busy. ...The question is: What are we busy about?"

(Henry David Thoreau)


About MNC Consulting Group
Our goal is to help you to dramatically increase efficiencies that immediately boost your profit margins.


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Extreme Profits is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing how leaders can be more efficient and areas where organizations can save more money. 


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In This Issue
The Efficient Organization
Pursuit of Profit
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)
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