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30 April 2017

emailDo you ever feel like your days are spent ploughing through email after email? Whilst the instant communication has become a business essential, we’re reaching a tipping point where it can become a huge distraction rather than a helpful tool. I’d bet that even on the bank holiday weekend you’re guilty of checking in on your inbox?

Invariably it gets to a stage when you have to pause – there are thousands of emails coming in faster than you can possibly read them, never mind action them all. So what do you do?

I always consider the following to try to stem the flow of mail across the business:

Control

Set yourself a time slot throughout the day when you check your emails; don’t be ruled by your inbox. It’s all too easy to fall into a black hole and lose hours scrolling through message after message, and easily lose track of your day. I have a couple of hours scheduled at the end of the day when I run through important messages with my PA – without this system I could easily spend every single moment trying to keep on top of the constantly growing mailbox!

Keep It Short

Why use 200 words when 10 will do? Keep your message concise, key information. If you need to convey any more than a couple of sentences, you should be speaking face to face or over the telephone.

Face-to-face is still essential!

There are some conversations that you simply should not have over email. It is far too easy to misread or misconstrue something written down. I would class any sort of feedback in this too – don’t email your team, speak with them! If it’s a sensitive topic, if you’ve not spoke with someone for a while, arrange a meeting instead. Go for a coffee or a pint, build a real relationship.

Is it necessary?

Do you really need to send that email? Is it 100% necessary? What would happen if you didn’t send it? Sending unnecessary mail makes you part of the problem! Don’t clog other people’s inboxes when you could call them or pop over, or your message could wait.

It’s not a to-do list

This is the golden rule of email. Would you let 100 other people write your to-do list for the day? That’s effectively what happens in your inbox with meeting requests, tasks and ‘have you got a minute jobs’. Don’t focus on the jobs that shout the loudest, prioritise. Does it help you towards your goal? Is there a deadline? What do the team need you to complete?

These are the tips I follow to manage emails, I am sure that everyone has different techniques. I’d love to hear yours in the comments below.

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