Make emailing stress-free – Do our self-test & read the tips.
Here are 10 questions – with suggested answers – to self-diagnose how good YOU are at managing and staying on top of your email.
- How quickly do you expect a reply to your emails?
TIP – Don’t get impatient. Be realistic. Why not establish norms in your office (a reasonable response time). Or send informative holding replies instead of overly-speedy email replies with possible mistakes.
- Are you suffering from email addiction?
ANSWER – We are all guilty. It is not New Year, but as a resolution try and limit your checking to e.g. every 60–90 minutes (I use a minute timer so I know when time is up). Reward yourself when you keep to it for a day!
- How many folders do you have for your email?
TIP – For easier tracking and retrieving, it’s well worth having lots – do what you would do for your paper filing system.
- What’s the balance of your email inbox? Are they ‘background noise’ emails, or emails with ‘necessary information’.
SUGGESTION – Unsubscribe from the former as much as you can – to decrease the ratio between these two.
- What’s the maximum number of times you open an email without actioning it?
ANSWER – If your answer is more than two, be careful. Try to deal with emails in whatever way you can on their first viewing (or Delete them, Delegate them to someone else, or Defer to a specific date – follow the four D’s.)
You’re half way through – Five more questions to go …
- Are your emails always understood? How quickly, and at what cost, can you get a difficult conversation with someone back on the right track?
TIP – Always check your writing – not just for mistakes and typos, check your tone of voice, anticipate people’s queries, and check that your email can’t be misunderstand. And if the issue is complicated, delicate, or there are several possible options etc., why not use the phone instead?
- Do you update your subject line as the email conversation changes?
ESSENTIAL – Definitely good practice – and lazy and confusing otherwise.
- Have you ever missed or reduced the priority of an email sent to you because of the large number of recipients?
WARNING – A lesson for yourself then. Use cc appropriately, and ask to be taken off irrelevant lists, etc.
- Have you sent/received an email without the necessary attachment?
TIP – When writing emails, get into the habit of adding any attachments FIRST, before you write the body of the email (and especially the email address) – that way you can’t forget. Also, only send relevant attachments (sending multiple attachments is confusing and daunting for receivers), or refer people to an intranet document, website etc., where they can get access to what they need.
- Ever sent an email you regretted?
OOPS -– but you are not the only one! And I guess you know the answer to prevent that happening again …