Email is corporate America’s and higher education’s communication workhorse. Millions of emails are sent daily and many people have thousands of emails in their inboxes. Are you managing your email efficiently? Does handling your email take multiple hours each day? Are you really being the email correspondent you believe that you’re being?
Managing Email Efficiently
Let me share five tips that I employ for managing email efficiently.
- Email happens later in the afternoon. Use your creative energies for projects that require creativity. This really means that, in the morning when you have energy, don’t squander it on email. When you’re tired but still need to be productive is when you should manage email.
- Don’t email late at night. One time, late at night (or early in the morning, whichever), I sent an email asking how hard it would be to do something. Inadvertently, I sent an entire team into a frenzy and damaged some working relationships. I thought I was being productive but, because I was tired, I couldn’t see that my message was destructive.
- Schedule time to handle your email. Don’t check your email religiously. You can squander tons of time on email by continuously checking it. (I break this rule often but know better.) Put time on your calendar to answer email and then neglect it.
- Goal: Inbox zero. This sounds like the “promised land”–and it is. Unless you’re always ensuring that you’ve finished all of your email, you’ve potentially left something important unresolved. For this, I actually think that using mobile apps is easier. Since you can easily “swipe” your work away, you can be managing email efficiently in a fairly easily manner.
- Work into it. It’s best to handle the easy emails first. Emails that require only a “Thank you!” and your name or require no response at all are those that should be handled first. Then you can psyche yourself into finishing the task.
I felt motivated enough about this to, on one day, compose a video about just this.
Let me offer a few additional pointers for composition of your email. Here goes:
- Proofread, proofread, and then proofread one more time before sending. Take time and read your own message multiple times before you send it. Read it aloud–it makes a tremendous difference. Obey the grammar you’ve placed in your own message and then adjust it. Plus, every modern browser or email client checks spelling for you. Fix your work.
- Observe rules of proper messages. Unless a relaxed rapport has already been established between you and those to whom your email is addressed, use proper rules of etiquette. (Your boss, no matter how relaxed, should always receive emails that have been properly formatted.) Use a correct salutation and conclusion.
- Format your message into clear, concise paragraphs. This will be noticed and appreciated.
- KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. If you put too many questions or comments, people will begin to skim and they most likely won’t complete all of the actionable items in your communique.
Email is a beast that will consume your life. With dozens, nay hundreds of emails daily, the ability to manage this gargantuan responsibility is key. Successfully managing email efficiently is a task that is challenging but that can be budgeted. If you plan ahead and schedule (at a reasonable hour) when you’ll handle email, work into it easily, and then work to inbox zero, you’ll eventually make a mole hill out of the mountain.
Also, remember the bonus points: proofread, use etiquette, use formatting to accentuate your points and be simple.
Good luck with your email!