Good question and one we all hear often. I have read employees can spend up to 25% of their day reading and responding to emails. Though email communication has been a blessing it has also been a curse. I think we all agree an empty inbox is a peaceful way to end the day! The chaos and stress of 100+ emails cause stress and anxiety. Developing an organizational system that works best for you is essential. One recommendation is delete (read and done), archive (create a folder if you may need to reference in the future), quick reply (requires 3-4 sentences, and just a few minutes) action needed (create an action folder). Your action folder is for emails that take longer than 2 minutes and may need further research and consideration. Select several times per day to address these emails. Process your inbox until empty EVERY day. Your inbox should not be your To-Do List. What a wonderful feeling that will be!!
Stop before sending an email. Can you figure out the answer on your own, should you wait until you have more information, or can you combine thoughts? If you’re asking an open-ended question, email is not the form of communication!
Stop auto-delivery of emails. Set your options to get emails at regular intervals. Constant receipt of emails hampers productivity and creativity.
Stop being vague in the subject line. Start using the subject line to help your recipients. Indicate the topic clearly such as a project or client or type of meeting. Here are some examples of add-ons:
- INFO – details included that are necessary but do not require action
- ACTION – need a response today
- TIME SENSITIVE or FYA – something hinges on how quickly you respond. In other words, answer soon For Your Action
- LOW PRIORITY- no need to interrupt your day. Review later
- EOM or SIM – the subject line has the message. End Of Message Subject is Message
Stop using email when a phone or face to face conversation will be more productive. If you have a thread of emails, a conversation with back and forth discussion could have spared your inbox! Email was created for 4-5 sentence communications.
Maybe you should begin using these acronyms!
- F2F – lets talk face to face
- LRL – lets discuss live
- IRL – in real life, this email thread is too confusing
- OTP – discuss on the phone, more than one reply needed for this topic
- NNTR – no need to respond
Be polite in your emails, but no one needs a bunch of replies of “thanks” in their inbox. Assume if we were polite in our email, we are thankful!