Some tips for making better use of email at work and in personal life
- Realize that busy people may skim your email instead of reading it thoroughly, especially if they notice that they are among one of multiple recipients of the email.
- When speaking to a specific person or people in the email body, highlight their name using bold, italics or color so that they notice it.
- You can do that by either using a mailing list that only authorized people can send mail to, or by putting the actual recipients in bcc: field and using a placeholder address in the to: field. That is a legitimate use of bcc:. You could also request in your message that recipients do not reply-all to this message and instead for example, report issues to an alternate address.
- Managers sometimes cringe when after they send a positive message to a large number of people, one of the recipients replies-all with a negative message that either diminishes or distracts discussion away from the original positive message. An employee who does reply-all to a positive message with a negative one is being foolish or a jerk (usually both). You should avoid giving such people a pulpit and opportunity to lower others’ morale and/or start a flame war. (When you have such employees who don’t stop doing this after being told, fire them and hope they get employed by your competitor.)
- If you are the recipient of an announcement, do not do a reply-all, unless you have a relevant, positive message to add that adds value to and strengthens the original message.
- I am not suggesting that you don’t voice your disagreements, corrections, cautions, constructive criticism and other comments. You should express them, but not via reply-all. Communicate them to the appropriate person(s) only, typically that would be the sender of the announcement or your supervisor. If you find an error in someone’s announcement, give the sender the courtesy of an opportunity to send out a correction by letting them know first.
- Realize that some people are overwhelmed by email and you should occasionally reach out to them in person or via phone for certain important matters. Email is not a replacement for all personal communication.
- If your job requires you to be on alert for certain messages, set up alerts via mail filters that will sound or vibrate the device to inform you of messages that require you to interrupt your current activity.
- Dr. Jackson's Research - About email overload, its impact and solutions
- Email Charter - 10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral
- Best Practices for Email - Published at the Harvard Business School Web site
- 7 Tips for Effective Email - By Rajiv Pant
- Information Overload Research Group - Also follow them on Twitter at @iorgforum
- A discussion on Google+ about dealing with email overload