Have you ever wondered how much time you spend emailing each day? If you’ve held any kind of office job, you’ve probably spent more time than you realize drafting, editing, sending, reading, organizing, and searching through emails as part of your job. In fact, until now, it’s been nearly impossible to figure out exactly how much time you’ve been spending—or how that time could be reduced.
Now, there’s an analytics tool that could help you accomplish this feat of productivity: it’s called Gmail Metrics, and it enables you to visualize many of your Gmail-related activities in charts and graphs.
The Email Wasteland
Email has become such an important and ubiquitous component of our jobs, we barely realize when we’re doing it; we send emails on autopilot, and innately understand that almost every task or project we work on will be linked to email in some way (whether that’s in the form of assignment, delegation, updates, or conversations).
Some analyses estimate that the average worker sends or receives about 121 emails a day—a number that’s expected to increase in the coming years. Now imagine that each of these emails takes 3 minutes of your time; that’s 6 hours a day you spend managing email. Every second per email that you spend (on average) results in a 2-minute loss for the day.
Accordingly, email is one of the biggest points of vulnerability for worker productivity—and yet, it’s still one of the most neglected. Gmail Metrics hopes to close that gap by shedding a light on our email habits and illuminating key areas that we can improve.
The Problem With Numbers
Of course, the data alone won’t be enough to get the job done. After all, you have access to some numbers in the comfort of your current inbox—including how many emails you send per day, how many you’ve starred, and so on.
The key feature of Gmail Metrics is its presentation of data visualizations, so you can see in charts, graphs, and illustrations how your email habits unfold.
This data visualization system can:
- Help you understand the big picture. The main goal of data visualization is to take a complex statistical or numerical concept and turn it into something that’s easier to understand at the conceptual level. Human brains aren’t wired to learn through math and numbers; they’re wired to learn through sights and experiences. Seeing a visual breakdown of your email habits, including the time you spend on each email, gives you a sense of the “big picture,” rather than forcing you to delve into the minutiae of your daily routine.
- Illustrate your momentum over time. Visuals are also handy for illustrating your progression over time. If you learn from a key insight one month, and employ new strategies to improve your productivity, you should be able to see a substantial shift in the next month’s corresponding graph.
- Demonstrate your findings to others. Data visualization is also important because of how easy it is to show to other people; it may take you the better part of an hour to explain the details of a statistical analysis, but most people can get a clear sense of a concept when it’s illustrated with color-coded pieces in a convenient diagram.
How Can Email Analytics Help?
These visuals may seem fascinating to you, but they’re more than just intriguing—they’re practical. These are just some of the ways email analytics can help you improve your productivity, as well as your team’s:
- Identifying personal weaknesses. First, you’ll get the opportunity to look at your strengths and weaknesses in the email realm. For example, do you spend a disproportionate amount of time drafting emails, when they could be shorter and more concise? Or are you the one who always starts email conversations? You might be surprised to learn some of these insights, and once you do, you’ll be able to correct the habits responsible for them.
- Tracking organizational problems. You’ll also be able to spot problems with the organization as a whole. For example, is your email volume suffering from excessive internal communications? Does your top sender send 10 times as many emails as your next top sender? With this information, you can push for change.
- Recognizing ROI issues. You may even be able to recognize when a client is taking up too much of you and your team’s time. At that point, you may be able to justify charging more, or restructure their email expectations to be more reasonable.
Data analytics and visuals are just the first step of the process. Once you understand the root causes of your lost productivity, you can instill better habits and change your environment so you can spend more time doing what’s most valuable to you (and your organization).
It’s much easier when you have a tool on your side to track your progress and keep you up-to-date about the biggest priorities for improvement.