WEB & TECH / DEC. 09, 2014
version 3, draft 3

Guidelines for Managing Email at Work

Email is a very important tool of communication in the workplace. Many people receive numerous messages in their inbox on a daily basis. If you don’t handle it properly, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time on email. The following are some practical tips which can help you manage your emails more effectively:

1. Acknowledge receipt

When someone addresses an email to you directly, it would be appropriate to acknowledge receipt. If you fail to respond, they won’t know if their message reached you, and are likely to resend the same email. However, avoid giving lengthy responses unnecessarily. In many cases, a simple response like ‘Got it’, ‘Thanks’ or ‘Good job’ would be sufficient.

2. Address correctly

Many people assume that the To: and Cc: fields in email are one and the same thing. This is not true. The To: field should have the address of the person the email is being sent to, and from whom a response is required. However, the Cc: field should have the address of other people who should be privy to the information.

3. Keep it short

Most people don’t like reading long emails. Therefore, make sure you keep your emails as short and concise as possible. This will also make it easier for people who access email on their tablets or phones. To keep your email succinct, try to communicate your message in not more than six sentences. If you have more to say, you could simply meet the person face-to-face or call them.

4. Be clear with your words

It is very important to use the right words in your email. If your message causes confusion, you are likely to get more subsequent emails from people seeking clarification on the matter. This could end up wasting a lot of time. Therefore, take time to select your words properly to avoid misinterpretation and uncertainty.  

5. Establish a routine

If you are always checking your emails as they come in, you will end up wasting too much time. Instead, it would be advisable to have fixed times for checking email. For instance, you could set aside half an hour for email in the morning, lunch time and evening. This allows you to process your email in batches rather than one by one. Once you have checked mail, close your email program and focus on other tasks.

6. Touch it once

If you don’t act on emails right away, they will accumulate and you will end up wasting a lot of time later. As much as possible, handle each item in your inbox only once. After reading an email, decide what action you are going to take right away. If it requires a response, send a reply immediately. However, if for some reason you cannot respond immediately, you could save the email in the drafts folder. When you are ready with a reply, you will know where to find the email. Remember to delete all emails which don’t have to be retained in your inbox.

Conclusion

To guard yourself against spam, it would be advisable to set up a filtering system. You should also take time to unsubscribe from every newsletter which is not adding any value to your life. This will reduce the amount of emails flowing into your inbox.

Image source: Mashable

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