Some Simple Rules to Help Control the “Email Spiral” - Part 1

Services for Real Estate Pros with REVStaffing


For REVStaffing's virtual assistants, and for our clients, working online has endless advantages. There's one clear disadvantage, though, and that's the ever-growing number of emails glutting our in-boxes! We all spend hours each week writing emails, and our recipients spend even more time reading and responding to them.

Last month, following a blog post that initially caught the attention of over 45,000 people, The Email Charter was created. In this and our next blog, we'll share the purpose and the content of the Charter; like its creators, we hope you'll share it with others! Today, let's look at why – and how – the in-box spiral happens.

Here's a fact that may seem counter-intuitive: The average time one spends responding to a single email is greater than the time it takes to create the original email. That doesn't make sense, does it? We read quicker than we write, so you'd assume it would take only seconds to read an email that took a few minutes to write. So our initial statement only makes sense when you understand five factors that come into play, outweighing the “common sense” logic.

First, you have to understand that the act of processing an email involves a lot more than just reading. You have to scan your in-box, decide which emails to open, open an email, read it, decide how to respond, make your response (which may involve writing an email of similar length), then get back into the flow of your work. You can see how even the shortest email that you open, read and delete can take a full minute of your time.

Second, many emails contain easy to ask (but hard to answer) open-ended questions to which you can't rapidly respond. "What's your opinion on all this?" "How should I move forward?"

Third, it takes no time to add another cc, and many emails are sent to multiple recipients. Just remember that each additional recipient multiplies the total response time demanded by the original email.

What about emails that contain additional text that has been copied and pasted from other documents or a lengthy thread that is simply being re-forwarded? This is a fourth factor that can eat into your reading/response time.

Finally, It's easy to add a link to an email, and many emails contain links to web pages or videos. It can take valuable minutes to view the link contents.

Think about this: Every hour you spend writing and sending email is likely consuming more than an hour of the combined attention of your various recipients. We're unintentionally but actively creating an ever-growing problem for one another. Tune in for Part 2 of this blog, where we'll share the Email Charter; in the meantime, tell us how the email spiral affects YOUR business!

At REVStaffing, our professional virtual assistants are dedicated to helping you maximize your valuable time and resources, and we can help you find new ways to streamline your email practices. Visit us on Facebook at If you're not yet a client, give us a call for a free needs analysis; we'll be happy to discuss your office's unique needs.

You can bookmark this page to return for updates. If you need assistance in the meantime, please contact us by email at or phone at 855-738-7821, extension 703.

 © REVStaffing 2011

Comments (1)

Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

My wife has 3,000 unread emails....I can't believe that.  But, she says a lot of them are from Real Simple and HGTV and some couponing sites.  Still.

Jul 29, 2011 10:48 AM