Email is a TREMENDOUS business tool … it allows us to communicate effectively in a way that previous generations could not have imagined. We achieve gains in productivity by the ability to share and collaborate; to reach quick consensus by email; and to get quick attention to urgent matters … no matter where we are!
Email is a TERRIBLE business tool … it destroys our ability to communicate face to face; it swamps us with its every increasing volume, trapping us at our desks as we try desperately to keep up; it does not communicate emotion well … and can get us in big trouble when we inadvertently send the wrong “message” or misinterpret a received message.
What?????? Make your mind up … is it good or is it bad?
The answer is that email CAN be both good and bad … the EFFECTIVE use of email can make a wonderful tool, BUT POOR use of email can turn it into a productivity sucker!!!
There are probably some common sense things we can all do to make email just a little more effective … and less of a “productivity suck”.
1. Do NOT be driven by your email … it is a tool you use in your job, it is NOT THE JOB. So, make your decisions about how to spend your time with that in mind … and before you read an email!
2. Do NOT use “reply all” without thinking about it! do ALL of those people really need to hear your answer?
3. Delete all of the “spam” in your inbox before starting through your email. Better yet create filters so that you never see them again.
4. Set aside specific time to look at email … do not sit in front of your computer waiting for the next email (see item #1).
5. Keep email short and simple … if it is a long email, or has some complexity (a) consider picking up the phone; (b) maybe it should be a document that you are sending as an attachment; (c) perhaps you can you break it up into several smaller emails (remember that you probably lose your reader after the first paragraph).
6. Don’t send an email that says anything (a) you would not want to be reading about in the press; (b) you would “take exception to”, if you received it; (c) that you would not send in a formal letter.
7. Spell check AND proof read before sending.
8. Learn to use your email filters … and filter as much stuff as possible directly to TRASH. You can also filter certain content to a “read later” folder … it it is not time sensitive (I do this with industry periodicals).
9. Accept that keeping a “clean” inbox is not necessarily a good thing. It is important to be able to identify the “critical email” and deal with it … perhaps by sorting on sender, or on content.
10. Do NOT be DRIVEN by EMAIL… YOU decide WHEN to read it, WHAT to process and HOW it fits into your day. Oops I said that already!
“If there is one general law of communication it is that we never communicate as effectively as we think we do.” Charles Handy
Make YOUR email an effective business tool … it will be good for your sanity, as well as your career!!!