The Washington Post referred to email as the “… dirty laundry of the internet.” It steals our time – an average of 4.1 hours per day to be exact – and fills us with anxiety and feelings of constantly needing to be available right away any time of day. It wrecks our weekends and steals time away from our family.
Does it have to? Absolutely not.
But you have to show it who’s boss. Reclaim hours of time by starting a few small email habits now.
1) Go through emails in batches
A study conducted by the University of British Columbia suggests that three times a day is best to schedule purging times. Delete everything you don’t need, respond to emails that are going to take less than two minutes to get back to and have a system for the ones you’ll need to carve out more time to answer. Leave them unread in your inbox, flag them, or if needed, turn it into an item on your to do list. Setting dedicated times to tackle your inbox will alleviate your brain moving back and forth between tasks,will help you regain focus and will ultimately leave you more time to get actual work done.
2) Put more details in the subject line
We love this one. The more detailed you are in the subject line, the easier the recipient can determine what you want. They can quickly decide if they need to respond immediately or if they can get back to you later. It also helps tremendously when they go back to search all emails from you. Glancing through well construct subject lines will them quickly find what they need. Wouldn’t YOU love it if people did that for you? Do unto others…
3) Send less email
Was that last email you sent with the thumbs up emoji about the strategy meeting REALLY necessary? Did it open up a floodgate of bcc’ed craziness between the whole office? STOP! The less you send out, the less that comes in. It’s like email physics.
4) Slow down
Slow down and read over your emails and THINK before hitting send. Really think through the project, issue or topic you’re addressing and make sure you have all of your thoughts together. There’s nothing worse than getting an email with instructions, then two minutes later getting one that says “Oh I forgot this one important thing…” or “…and please don’t forget to make this change as well…” Something will undoubtedly get lost in the shuffle and will lead to more emails and more wasted time. Take a breath. Think. Hit send.
5) Be short. Be kind.
Emails do not need to be novels. Keep it short and sweet, but be sure not to SOUND short. A positive tone is important for good email communications and helps share your professional persona with others. Efficiency, professionalism and portraying your great personality is a winning trifecta.