The other day after returning from lunch I listened to several voicemails. One message was from a client letting me know he had sent me an email. Later that afternoon, someone else texted to ask me to read the email she had just sent.

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The other day after returning from lunch I listened to several voicemails. One message was from a client letting me know he had sent me an email. Later that afternoon, someone else texted to ask me to read the email she had just sent.

Really?

Many people are now getting creative to ensure their messages don’t get lost in a sea of emails … such as by sending follow-up voicemails or texts. I can’t say I blame them, given the number of emails most people receive every day.

Business emails account for the majority of global email traffic, with 89 billion sent and received daily during 2012. To make matters worse, this number is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 13 percent over the next four years to 143 billion emails by the end of 2016.

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Those statistics are enough to make my head swim. It’s also enough to make us realize we probably spend more time sifting through emails each day than we’d like. While it can be a wonderful communication tool, I can’t help but think that if we all used email more responsibly and efficiently, maybe people wouldn’t resort to other methods to ensure their emails are read.

Tips to spring-clean your email habits:

Pick up the phone. Instead of sending an email, try calling. For many topics, a telephone call will actually take less time.

Don’t copy the world. I know one person who would cc his manager on almost every email he sent, thinking he was covering himself in case issues arose. As this employee found out, his CYA behavior eventually cost him his job.

Stop pressing the “reply all” button. Just because someone else decided to copy the world on an email response doesn’t mean you should. Consider the “reply all” button off-limits.

Clearly state the topic in the subject line. For example: FYI Only – 2013 Budget Meeting Agenda Attached.

If action is needed, state it in the subject line. For example: For Your Approval – Updated 2013 Budget Proposal.

Be concise. State the topic, explain what actions you need from the person and include any due dates. Don’t write a novel.

Set aside specific time each day for emails. If you can’t keep yourself from checking constantly throughout the day, you’re email-obsessed. Check messages in the morning, before or right after lunch and at the end of each day.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.