In today's day and age, we are flooded with emails on a daily basis. Most people have a personal email address where we are bombarded with special offers, facebook alerts, updates from friends, etc. as well as a professional email address used for work purposes. And in most cases, this is equally full of new emails on an hourly basis. But are all these email necessary and relavant?
Before you hit the send button – there are a few questions you should be asking yourself.
1. Is this a necessary email? I get multiple emails a day responding to a question with a reply that says “I’ll check and get back to you”. I’ll admit, I am guilty of the same thing, but have adopted a rule that if I think I can get an answer within 24 hours, I will skip that email and just respond when I have the answer. Chances are, if you send the first one, the sender will feel obligated to reply with “thanks” and now we both have unnecessary emails in our inbox to sort through and deal with.
2. Do all of the people CC’d need to be on each and every email in the string? Do you need to reply all with “thanks”? Or could that simply go to the person that you intend to thank? I believe multiple people should be CC’d when an email requires an action step that they may be involved in or when a solution to the issue has been come to and they should be informed. Including everyone in all the steps along the way is probably not necessary.
3. Is your attachment attached? This is a common problem that will create multiple emails that could have just been one. My solution, I attach the document prior to writing the email. So as soon as I open a new email that I am creating in order to attach something to, I will attach the document first and then compose the email.
4. Should you change the subject line before you reply? Often times people reply to one email with a question about something else. This creates a problem when trying to locate the relevant email again. You may have 4 emails in your inbox with the same subject line, but 1 of them has information about a completely unrelated topic. This may cause someone to have to look through 4 emails in order to find one. So, if you are going to reply with “thanks and by the way”, change the subject line to summarize the “by the way”. That way when referring back, it is easier to find and can be filed away accordingly.
We are all busy, and probably spend too much time of each day checking, reading, and filing emails. So do someone a favor and think twice before you hit send. If it is something that if you received, you would delete it right away, or something that you know will require later follow up, hold off on sending and make note to revisit it in 24 hours.
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