Continuing my Questions and Answers series I have been asked if I have any comments or advice about emails. A big topic!
There is no doubt that emails are a tremendous boon. They make communication quick and keep a record in one place. It is easy to send the same information to several people at the same time, although this can be both an asset and a disadvantage – does everyone really need to know?
This takes us to the other side of the email coin – they can also be the bane of our lives. In the days of snail mail how often did you receive 20, 30, 50 or even 100 pieces of mail in one day? Yet for many, such quantities of daily receipts in your inbox are the norm.
Reading, responding, binning etc can take a significant proportion of your day. The benefits of rapid communication can be counter-productive if handling emails dominates your day. You can become the slave of other people’s priorities rather than pursuing your own. So it is worth spending a little effort to streamline how you use and deal with them.
I will consider two aspects: Writing and Organising.
1. Social or business?
Emails have become such a part of everyday life that they tend to be used for all correspondence. (Nb Please interpret ‘email’ broadly to include equivalent communication through social media etc). But the way you write depends greatly on whether the email is for social or business communication. Social communication tends to be much more chatty and descriptive, replacing the hand-written letter of yester-year. Business emails, however, are usually about gathering or disseminating information. This needs to be more succinct and easily accessible to the reader. If it is also long-winded it will be put in ‘pending’ – which probably equates to ‘never’.
So my first tip is probably obvious:
- Have separate email addresses for social and business communication.
Next time we will look at some specifics and a few tips. Meanwhile, try keeping your emails short, sharp and to the point.