I am guilty. My inbox is usually overflowing or I’m stoping in the middle of my work every few seconds to read my newest email. I also have a problem with hoarding my emails and not permenatly deleting them. Can’t you tell my IT guy loves me already? He recently held a competition at work to see who could clear out their delete boxes and free up the most space. I didn’t win.
I think that if we have help to organize our emails (and we actually take the time DO it) then we can be more effective designers and leaders. We can concentrate more on what matters.
My husband is always complaining about all of the “junk” email that I receive. It’s not completely junk but they are extra emails that I could unsubscribe from. Opening or deleting 1-2 Pottery Barn emails per day is time wasted. Start unsubscribing from emails that you don’t need or lower the frequency if you want to still find out about a sale just not that often. Many places now will allow you to choose once a week, once a month, etc. emails.
If the email requires a response or task takes you less than one minute to complete then go ahead and do it right away. If not, flag it or put it into a folder to come back and do later. I use a tool called Evernote that allows you to send copies of your email to it and then you can tag it put it into folders or save for later use. I need to use that more!
Schedule some time each day where you go through those emails that you’ve set aside and respond, sort, or do the needed task. This is a practice that the dean at a university I work for does. He sets aside about 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon and that allows him to work more efficiently.
This past week a leader in education sent my supervisor some tips on how they make email more effective at their school. He passed this along to us and I’ve begun implementing it. I’ve found that it already has helped me to organize and find emails for reference quicker than before. It’s also much easier not having to sort through lots of carbon copied emails. These guidelines are listed below.
- Write a short, accurate, descriptive subject line for every message. The subject is the message. We should be able to glance at the subject line and know exactly what the email is about.
- Start a NEW email MESSAGE with a NEW SUBJECT line for each NEW SUBJECT or topic.
- Do NOT start a different topic in an existing email conversation/thread.
- Keep emails short.
- Write your message in short paragraphs. Long complex paragraphs are hard to read and they make finding important information difficult.
- Bold key information, e.g., dates, names, amounts, etc.
- Use bullet points whenever possible.
- Most emails should not be longer than one computer screen length. Minimize the need for the read to scroll.
- Do not cc or bcc others unless they really need to see the email.
- Don’t “Reply All” unless all need so see the reply.