My article that published in the paper earlier this month was about how to make this email beast go away. Well, not really – more about a few tips to make it more effective and efficient. This cartoon sums up my thoughts beautifully! (article in it’s entirety below.)
Making Email More Effective – Stop Sending So Much Email!
So much of my coaching and consulting days are spent with people suffering through email. Email has officially become the biggest pain in the rear in our business lives. While helpful on many levels, it also has overtaken most people’s time and energy and the truth is that it’s an addiction. There’s a thousand stats out there and I’ll spare you those because I’m sure you’ve heard them all, like this one: the average worker wastes over half of the day checking, responding and managing email. HALF OF OUR DAY! And how about this one… in the time it has taken you to read this sentence, 20 million emails were written. Wowza!
My answer? It’s simple: send less email. Email begets email, so the more you send, the more you have to manage. The other tidbit that I find interesting with email is that for most of us, once we send the email, it’s off our plate and as good as done, but that’s not really the case. There’s follow up with whom that email was sent and there’s an entire ripple effect from firing off that one email on the receivers side. Their ability or (in) ability to process that email is a very big deal.
Here’s a my top 10 tools to help cut down on and manage email more effectively extracted from a business training I developed and deliver to teams and companies all over the central coast and online cleverly titled: Effective Email Management.
- Amazing subject lines. Subject lines are akin to headlines in newspapers… the more on point and focused they are, the more likely they are to get read first. (And isn’t that the point?)
- Use the right tools (Outlook or Gmail or whatever your email client is). If you don’t know how to use your tools, it’s impossible to effectively manage your email. Rules, color coding, delay sending, and turning emails into calendar items are all simple tricks that can drastically improve the efficiency at which you process email.
- Be brief. I’m going to tell you something you may have never heard or maybe don’t want to hear… PEOPLE DO NOT READ! They skim. So make your emails short and to the point. Brevity is king when it comes to writing emails.
- Give clear and concise directions. Since people don’t really read, then it’s uber important to put anything you want achieved from the person you’re sending your email to in big BOLD letters and always include deadlines. This not only helps YOU follow up better, but it helps THEM stay on track with their workflow. It also creates accountability – so be bold and use clear dates and times around expectations.
- Following up with a call. This can work wonders to expedite the response you want.
- Turnaround time. Let someone know you received it and when you’ll get back to them. This is one of the easiest and most professional things a person can do. So simple, yet kills a lot of birds with one stone.
- Easy on the attachments. If you’re anything like me (and of course you are) then when I get am email with more than 1-2 attachments, I want to cruise right past it and head to the next one that’s easy to handle. The rule of thumb is 2 max on an email – if you need to send more, send a separate email if it’s relevant.
- White space & Bullets. Refer back to #3 and you’ll see why this tip is relevant. The eye moves to whites space, so when you can create it intentionally while using bullets to summarize, it’s a given that your email will get read and handled faster than text filled emails.
- Pick up the phone! Just make it a rule – if it goes back and forth more than 3 times you’re going to call. What you can do inside of a 3 minute phone call is magical and knocks out the insane amount of time we spend messing around with the ambiguity of email language.
- No more reply all. If you overuse this, you know who you are. We all ask that you stop. Use the cc and bcc appropriately and stop replying all, unless you are 100% sure it is relevant for each of the receivers. Remember – each person now has something else to deal with because of that reply all hit.
Like these tips? More where this came from on my blog…. www.radiantorganizing.com/blog. Email me with questions or article ideas at Sara@radiantorganizing.com