Email tends to be an almost unconscious feature of the workday, at least for most of us. We open Gmail in the morning, leave it open in a separate window throughout the day, and read and respond to messages as they come in—even if it means pulling away from our current focus.
It’s easy to take this process for granted, and just assume that there aren’t any real opportunities for improvement with how we handle email. After all, email is the most popular medium for professional communication, with something like 300 billion emails sent and received each day.
However, if you could visualize your email activity in Gmail – a Gmail report – you might be surprised to learn just how much room for productivity improvement you and your team have. And more importantly, you might learn how much you could improve your daily work habits and productivity with just a handful of changes.
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The Perks of Visualizing Your Email Activity with a Gmail Report
You can kind of visualize your email activity in Gmail already, by glancing at the ever-growing number of unread Inbox messages you have or taking note of the marked emails you still need to follow up with. Don’t miss our post on how to find unread emails in Gmail.
But what I’m talking about here is a more formal type of visualization, with charts and graphs that illustrate how frequently you email, what your emails typically look like, and how those patterns change over time.
Visualizing your email activity through a Gmail report in this way has a number of benefits:
- Intuition over analysis. You could easily sort through the number yourself, but seeing them depicted in a visual form allows you to tap into your intuitions. For example, a graph that shows your email traffic spiking to double its normal volume on Wednesday will have a bigger impact than mere numbers on a table.
- Bad habit evidence. Your bad habits will stick out like a sore thumb when you see them presented in a chart. For example, you might not realize just how long your email threads continue until you see what proportion of your time they take up.
- Cycles and preparation. Visuals are awesome tools for tracking patterns, so you can see which days of the week and which times of the day are busiest for you. With that information, you can make changes both to your workload and your schedule, optimizing your workday and workweek to be as efficient as possible.
- Most modern data visual platforms allow you some degree of interactivity; you can adjust the timeframes referenced in a chart, or control the input variables to get a different output. That way, you can get a bigger-picture view of your habits.
- Ongoing monitoring. Presumably, you’ll make positive changes to your email habits after seeing your worst habits on display. From there, you can use further Gmail reports to track your progress, hopefully watching your productivity increase as the weeks roll on.
How to Visualize Your Email Activity
So can you get a Gmail report that conveniently visualizes your email activity? Gmail doesn’t have a built-in feature to report on your daily email habits, but here at EmailAnalytics, we’ve designed our tool for this very purpose.
All you’ll need to do is link your Gmail account to EmailAnalytics, and you’ll get a comprehensive report on your email activity, including the number of emails you send per day, your current emails in each of several categories, the times and days of the week that are busiest for you, your average email’s word count, statistics on your email threads, your most popular senders and recipients and more.
Thanks to the interactive features within our platform, you can adjust these graphs and charts to display the exact metrics you’re after. You can even use it to monitor the email activity of your employees or teammates, which can help you rebalance workloads, increase accountability, and weed out bad email habits.
Improving Your Email Habits With a Gmail Report
The next step is, of course, improving your email habits. There’s much to gain here; the average white-collar worker spends 4.1 hours a day emailing. Assuming you can improve your email productivity by just 10 percent, that’s a net savings of 0.41 hours, or 25 minutes a day. Over the course of a week, that adds up to more than 2 hours of extra free time. But you can’t see this improvement unless you know where your pain points are, and take specific action to correct them.
Start by creating a Gmail report with EmailAnalytics to get a feel for your daily and weekly habits. Then, set specific goals, like rebalancing your workload, writing more concisely, or closing threads earlier. In a matter of weeks, you’ll notice a significant difference in the amount of time you spend on email (and how much you can focus on other tasks).
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.