Despite frequent claims that email is dying, its use has been increasing at a rapid pace. Today, billions of people use emails for both personal and professional purposes, and there are no signs that this communication medium will soon lose its popularity.
According to a recent report by Radicati Group, the total number of consumer and business emails sent and received per day will exceed 281 billion by the end of this year. But the growth won’t stop there: by 2022, its number should reach 333 billion, suggests the same report.
With the use of email marketing proliferating among online businesses and individual users, it’s safe to say that your inbox also gets its fair share of messages every day. And, it’s possible that many of them have a little or no value for you.
While this may not sound like such a big deal, there’s a lot of research suggesting that email overload contributes to overall information overload and may severely affect your concentration and productivity (and even cause stress!). That’s why many email users look for solutions to deal with email overload manually.
But what about automation? Can it help?
Clearly, finding a way to deal with stuffed inboxes is essential, but dealing with hundreds of emails certainly requires some assistance, right?
One of the promising solutions that have emerged recently is artificial intelligence, or AI-powered tools, and they have been adopted by such well-known email providers; for example, Gmail has recently, launched so-called Smart Compose solution that uses AI to learn typing habits of a user and automatically finish their sentences for them.
In this article, we’re going to investigate how AI can be a much-needed help in dealing with cluttered inboxes and a critical tool to avoid negative effects on your productivity and focus.
An Email Epidemic
On a global scale, emails have become a kind of epidemic that undermines productivity and causes unnecessary stress. Just listen to these facts gathered by SaneBox and Inc.:
149,513 emails are sent every minute
An average employee spends about 13 hours a week reading and replying to emails. This equals 28 percent of the total work time, or 650 hours a year spend on emails
62 percent of emails in the average inbox is unimportant and/or irrelevant to recipients, so they can be deleted without reading
Several years ago, the percentage of irrelevant and unimportant emails was 58 percent, so their number is increasing
It takes about 64 seconds to recover from an interruption delivered by an email and return to the previous work rate
Limiting email access dramatically reduces stress levels.
Some people even took their email use one step further. For example, in 2012, a man named Joey Manansala from the U.S. has managed to clutter his email with…
4,294,967,257 unread emails!
He is the current record holder, according to Record Setter. Although there have been numerous instances of other people claiming to have a ridiculous number of unread emails in their inboxes, no one has come close to beating this record yet.
Can you imagine how much time this person wasted on emails? It must took him a lot of time to subscribe to email newsletters to get such a high number of unread emails!
By the way, if you want to know how much time of your life you could waste on reading and responding to emails, try the Washington Posts’ email calculator. People who used this calculator were simply amazed by how much time they could have spent on doing more meaningful things than browsing and reading emails.
To top all that, the email obsession has a lot of people reading work emails even when they’re out of the office. For example, the 2018 Adobe Consumer Email Survey found that 72 percent of people check their work emails even while on vacation!
Well, after reading the above facts, the main takeaway here becomes clear: the world experiences an email epidemic, and something has to be done to reduce its negative impact on people.
Fortunately, technology experts have been working on solutions.
Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue
The use of AI-powered tools has been increasing all around the world. Chatbots, smart cameras, sorting robots, machine learning-guided text proofreading – the list of applications of AI goes on and on.
One area in which software developers think AI can be especially helpful is email management, because it can deliver that much-needed personalization and automation of an email user experience.
But how exactly AI can help us with email management?
Let’s consider an example. Trove is an app that uses AI to learn how a user communicates with every contact in their inbox with a purpose to improve their relationships. It does so by analyzing the relationship with each contact and providing data-supported tips on how to manage email from that contact.
The heart of the app is a cloud-based AI app that utilizes powerful analysis algorithms to investigate communications and predict what’s important to the user. For example, the app may conclude that the user is extremely likely to delete an email from a certain sender, so it highlights it so the user could send it to the trash quicker and easier.
As the result, you can quickly swipe and archive all irrelevant and unimportant messages and focus your attention on those that matter.
The list of impressive features of this AI-powered solution doesn’t end there. For example, it allows to designate people the user would like to prioritize and display their messages on top of the inbox.
Next, it has smart notifications that give alerts only in case an important email arrives. Also, natural language processing enables the tool to determine questions and requests in an email text and let the user know that the sender wants them to respond by showing them instead of standard previews.
Another interesting example is an app called Knowmail. Its purpose is to keep email as efficient and relevant as possible to help users reduce the effect of email overload. The tool does so by filtering the most important messages and summarizing actionable conversations.
As the result, the user of Knowmail can find important emails quickly and spend less time dealing with those that proved to have to value. Like Trove, Knowmail uses advanced machine learning algorithms that learn a user’s habits and communication patterns.
By the way, here’s a great interview with Knowmail about information overload and approaches to managing it.
The Bottom Line
There are many tools like Trove and Knowmail being developed right now, so AI is definitely one of the promising solutions to email overload. Already, the technology can help to sort emails more effectively, reduce the time we spend on reading irrelevant an unimportant emails, focus our attention only on important messages, and even know how much time it will take us to clear out the clutter.
It’s safe to assume that AI-powered email management tools will continue developing and delivering better solutions to users. While they may not be the sole answer to the ongoing problem of email overload, they are nevertheless a great asset to have to minimize its harmful effect on our focus, productivity, and health.