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Take the e-mail test: Can collaboration tools save time and money?

(Sam Diaz, ZDNet) E-mail overload, though a problem for years, has always been a concern for the overwhelmed user. But even corporate networks can take a beating as the sheer volume of messages has increased. It’s not brain surgery; it makes perfect sense. But every once in a while, we need a kick in the pants to remind us how much of a time-waster e-mail can be and how to deal with it.

We suggest an analysis of your inbox to place messages into four categories:
  1. Coordinating Schedules — Deciding upon common times for meetings and events
  2. Document Collaboration — Working together on documents by sending them back and forth as attachments
  3. Managing Tasks — Sending or getting tasks requests and updating status.
  4. Group Decisions — Using email to discuss issues or as a voting mechanism to build consensus
You will find that close to half of the emails in our inbox don’t have much to do with “communication” at all, and fall in one of the above categories. Ironically, email is supposed to be a tool for “asynchronous communication”. A majority of emails are about teams and groups coordinating activities, discussing work related matters, or actually working on tasks like editing documents and sending them back and forth as attachments.

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