How many times are you checking your email each day? Either because you’re bored or because you’re trying to stay on top of your unread count? How much spam are you getting? Cat memes you didn’t ask for (but why not, they’re about cats!), and messages you didn’t need to be cc’d on. That’s not including all the newsletters and ads you subscribed to at one point.
We’re overloaded by email. And the worse part is, the business world runs on email. Love it or hate it, you can’t leave it behind or pretend it doesn’t exist. Google ’email overload’ and you’ll see lots of discussion on how to make it better. How many times have you tried to fix your email problem? Inbox Zero marathons, filters, changing email address, the options are out there.
But maybe the answer isn’t in how you handle the messages you receive, but in how you handle the messages you send. I believe that one of the ways to fix email is to send better messages. You can’t change how someone else uses email, but you can lead by example of how email should be used.
So where do we start? The first step is Brevity.
I’m as guilty as the next person of sending long messages. There are always things I want to explain or points I think I need to clarify. But what if I didn’t do that? What if I just responded with what was asked instead of elaborating?
Now, I’m not saying to forgo all the niceties like hello and thanks. Those are an important part of every email. But before you respond, consider the question being asked and how much information you really need to share. (This is one I’ve got to work on myself!)
So what’s your next step? Look at that email you were about to send. Can it be shortened up? Is there a better, more concise way to say what you were about to say? Not all emails call for brevity, but you’d be surprised at how many do.
What about you? How’s your email count feeling lately? Drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment here and let me know!
Then join me next week for Step 2 to fixing email!