Email? It’s free. No stamps!” smirked Harold. “We’ll see,” I replied. “How much time do you spend on email each year?” Harold shook his head, “I have no idea. I guess I get about 50 a day and I probably hit the Send button about 25 times.”
I slid a calculator across my desk. “So you send and receive a total of 75 emails per day. Let’s calculate your annual email volume: Multiply your 75 daily emails by 240, which is the number of work days per year. What do you get?”
Harold raised his eyebrows in wonder. “I process 18,000 messages per year? Wow.” “What else do you do 18,000 times a year?” I asked. Harold paused, “I don’t know… maybe breathe?” “Right,” I said, “next to life-sustaining activities, email may be what we do most.”
“Ughhh,” Harold groaned. “We practically live for email and that’s why we’ve got to do a better job of managing it. How much time do you think you spend on email each day, Harold?” “I’m not sure, but I would guess at least two and a half hours.”
“So it takes you 150 minutes to process 75 emails a day. That’s an average of 2 minutes per email. Now multiply your 18,000 annual emails by 2 minutes to get the total number of minutes you spend on email each year.” Harold did the calculations and stared in disbelief, “36,000 minutes per year?”
I nodded and leaned forward. “Now divide by 60 minutes to get the total number of hours you spend on email each year.” Harold was even more dumbfounded. “600 hours per year? No wonder I can’t get anything done!” “Now divide by 8 hours to calculate the number of 8-hour workdays you spend on email each year.”
“I spend 75 workdays per year on email? That’s almost four continuous months of email a year! Can that be right?” Harold was stunned. He did the calculation again and came up with the same number.
Now the clincher. Harold looked up in amazement. “Then I’m wasting 25 days a year on email?” “That’s more than a month of your career up in smoke each year. Using an average salary of $30 per hour, the cost of 25 wasted days is roughly $6,000 per worker each year or $6,000,000 for a company with 1,000 employees!”