Like few other tasks, email seems to suck up more time than it’s worth and distract us from our more meaningful work. Is there a way to get rid of the modern scourge of the workplace? Yes, but that would be a drastic company wide change that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. Instead, do these three things to make your emails more effective so you can spend less time emailing and more time doing the work you actually enjoy.
1. Preemptively Answer Questions: Write out your email and then, before hitting send, take a moment to read it over. Are there questions you can see your coworkers or clients bringing up in their reply email? If so, do your best to preemptively answer those questions before sending the email, that way there’s less of a need for back and forth and you can cut a significant chunk of time that email thread would take up in your workday.
2. Avoid the Giant Text Block: When you send out an email in a traditional paragraph or, worse yet, in a giant text block, you’re reducing the likelihood that the recipient will read and understand all of the information you’ve provided. Instead, make sure your emails are separated in smaller, easy to understand paragraphs that resemble bullet points (but without the physical dots). This format not only helps the reader absorb the information more quickly, it also helps to prevent skimming and missing details which could unnecessarily draw out the email exchange and take up more of your own valuable time.
3. End With Suggestions: When you end an email with your next suggested step and a suggestion for what you could do in the event that they don’t want to follow your next suggested step, you’re really saving more time than you might realize. If a coworker or client can simply respond “sounds good” to your email, you know you’ve done something right. Providing these solutions and suggestions prevent excessive time spent in email and also directly result in actionable tasks that take you away from email and help you get back to the work you really want to be doing.
Unfortunately, email is an inevitable reality in most modern workplaces. However, email doesn’t have to take up so much of your day. If you follow these three steps, your emails will be more effective and you’ll find yourself having to write fewer and fewer of them which helps you get back to doing the work you love!