Email is so prevalent now. Almost all ages use it and most of us probably never had a tutorial. So as I have learned ‘on the go’ here are some helpful tips I can pass on.
- Use e-mail suitably. Where face to face or phone is better – chose the right option. Even if it’s more difficult and takes longer.
- Always acknowledge receipt. It’s courtesy.
- If you need more time to digest – let he person know.It’s clarity.Short reply is always better than no reply.
- use separate accounts for personal and work. That way you can switch off properly during the weekend and on holidays.
- Try to aim for ‘inbox zero’- leaving only very urgent ‘to reply’ in. It’s simplicity.
- Use folders | labels and file emails accordingly. It’s easier to find them later.
- If you’re not wired – almost always on – let people that work with you know your habits and rhythms.
- Create template emails suited for different needs. They are time savers.
- Unless you’re in demand or expecting something extremely important, switch notifications off. they are unnecessary distractions.
- If your work requires email – devote a clear amount of time to it rather than moving ‘in and out’.
Email is such a phenomenal innovation in communication. Yet, like any good thing, it has it’s drawbacks. Here are some more lessons I have learned.
- Appropriateness. Discern whether what you need to communicate is best done through face to face communication or electronic means. All of us have heard of the unpleasant text message break-ups. there are certain things that can only be communicated in an environment where the words are matched by expressions and where there is the opportunity of feedback. Other times, e-mail really is best – factual and un-emotive. The key is evaluating beforehand and anticipating the desired impact.
- Mobile email can be a blessing – in emergency cases or as you’re expecting a very important news. But i think – at least in my case – that is the exception rather than the norm. Over-checking email, while on the go can be at best distracting and at worst dangerous. If you’re not expecting something vital – learn to check and reply to email only as a way to redeem time, if stuck waiting somewhere.
- RSVP – this can be one of the perils of checking on the go and then forgetting about it. Learn to reply as soon as you can as this will avoid your inbox looking bloated and therefore encourage panic-stricken procrastination. If you don’t know what to say – say so. If you need more time to gather data or think – say so. Just, reply. Soon. This will add ‘zing’ to your electronic communication like you never thought…
- Drafting – related to the point above – if you have something to say but it’s incomplete, write what you know/feel and draft it. Gmail does it automatically for you. Then you can come back to it and continue. this works brilliantly for reports. You enter data as it happens, draft it, and then add further developments and then – bingo – it’s ready to be sent. That way you work on the go.
- CC-ing – always ask yourself the question ‘who else needs to know about this’. Most of the time we ‘under-communicate’ and that’s the root of misunderstandings, confusion and other perils. Include anyone in your team that would benefit from being ‘in the loop’. That will not just avoid hassle but will often redeem precious time in meetings as everyone is on the same page.
I have to confess that I am a ‘sucker’ for anything related to productivity. Probably most of my apps are productivity related.
It might be true for most of ‘my kind’ that we simply love organisation because we might be intrinsically lazy otherwise. There is a huge amount of satisfaction to getting things done. Effectively. With excellence.
Yet as much as I notice an abundance of tools – they can easily become a distraction rather than a solution. I intend to explore – through my own personal lens – the pluses and perils of contemporary productivity.
I work cross-platform – so I’m not a devotee of one system and that adds to the challenge. Here are some lessons/suggestions that I have found helpful.
Let’s start with email.
- Work from separate email accounts. Split work and personal or even having a third account for newsletters and shopping. That way you can really enjoy your day off and arrange things in a more logical order.
- Chose a good email provider. I have never used a client like Outlook or Thunderbird and settled for Gmail, simply because the amount of spam i was getting in Hotmail was terrible -even with all settings right. Also since their latest version of livemail – it’s struggling to upload properly.
- Dedicate a specific time for e-mail work – if this is part of your job. Set a specific time at the best time of the day and work at them. Probably first thing in the morning and any other time you are less likely to be at your creative/relational peak.
- Don’t procrastinate. It will catch up with you. Even if you can’t go into an in depth reply – acknowledge and make sure that you get back to the person
- File well. Find a folder system that works for you and file, file, file. this is the equivalent of having a place you keep your passport, keys, etc. It will save you no end of hassle, even with a brilliant search facility.
In the next post(s) I will continue by looking at
- emailing via mobile devices
- written words vs. spoken words