According to Forbes, business professionals average 6.3 hours a day reading and responding to 123 emails. That’s a staggering amount of time and energy we could use on other projects. Most of us can’t get rid of email completely, but we can all lessen its monopoly on our work lives.
- Implement a three-email maximum
Email is designed to make communication more efficient, to replace some phone calls and in-person conversations, but not all of them. If you send a series of emails to the same person, you might save time—and learn more—with a phone call or a meeting. Choose a number as a cut-off point (mine is three). If you find yourself writing a fourth email to the same person on the same email thread, use that fourth email to set up a time for a meeting or phone call.
- Put the addressee’s name in last
WordRake founder Gary Kinder wrote an entire series of tips on emailing. One of his suggestions that improved my email habits the most is to write and revise emails before filling out the addressee box at the top. This prevents me from sending emails with unclear phrasing, typos, and missing attachments on an embarrassingly regular basis.
- Remember emails are public
Even if your company uses a secure server, your emails can easily find their way outside your office building. You can’t control if someone forwards your email, so write every message as though the whole world will see it. For some people, that means refraining from swearing; for others, using fewer emojis. Still more probably say less-than-kind words about someone in a moment of frustration and have to deal with those repercussions later. As we mentioned in a previous post, it’s okay to delay a reply so you can ensure your email is polite and well-reasoned.
- Format for readability
We always advocate for strong grammar and punctuation, but that need not be in paragraph format. Bullet points and lists are easier to scan quickly, and often easier to compose because we don’t spend as much time transitioning between sentences and paragraphs. Regardless of how you format your email, use WordRake editing software to ensure it’s concise. Your colleagues will thank you.
The suggestions above won’t completely remove email from your life, but they will ensure you communicate in a way that minimizes how many emails you read and write—and sharing this post might shrink your inbox even more.