The one rule you need to know before clicking send
If your organization is anything like most, you get somewhere between 50 and one million emails per day.
If you heed the advice of popular productivity hackers, there are several ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness in your emailing. In this piece, I am going to touch on one facet, possibly the most important thing to consider when you are emailing.
Like almost anything in life, this facet of the email game can boiled down to a variation of the golden rule:
"Email how you would like to be emailed"
If we were all to follow this rule, email could possibly escape the "time suck" label it has been garnered.
This rule breaks down into the two parties involved in the email exchange. The writer and the reader.
Email writers: Write for the readers of your emails.
Do your organization and, more importantly, your co-workers the courtesy of writing for them.
Within my first few months as professional DeskJockey, one my managers counseled me that no matter who you send an email to, most likely, they aren't going to read it within the first 15 minutes after you send it. So theoretically there is no difference between sending it now and 15 mins from now. So take the time to ensure the email is sending the message you want.
Next trim, trim, trim... Keith Ferrazzi, author of "Never eat alone", says the email you send should be half as long as your first draft.
Get your thoughts out, summarize, bake in the appropriate details, then refine. As Christoph Trappe says, "Cut words as if you were running out."
I am not saying every email has to be a work of art but think about the time the person on the other end is going to invest in reading/understanding it. You should invest at least that much time in crafting the message.
If your email requires a meeting to discuss and get agreement on the details, schedule a meeting. However, don't let the fact you are going to have a meeting stop you from collecting your thoughts prior to getting the decision makers together. If the topic can be decided on without much back and forth, with general agreement, then by all means proceed via email.
Email reader: Give the email sender the benefit of the doubt, even if one of the rules above is not followed.
Presumably, we are all busy. If the sender took the time to write out the detail your first reaction should not be to give up, it should be to dig in and attempt to understand.
Start by assuming it is important enough for you to invest the time to read and understand what is being communicated.
If you get to the point, where you switch from a passive reader of an email to taking action, see rules above for email writers!
Challenge: Take an extra 15 minutes to review your emails with the framework described above before sending and take notice in your improved correspondence.
If you say, "I can't do that, I send and receive over X emails per day" this applies to you even more. Perhaps you send/receive so many emails because your emailing is ineffective to the point where it is also inefficient?