Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload
The problem is that readers now bear the burden
Before e-mail, senders shouldered the burden of mail. Writing, stamping, and mailing a letter was a lot of work. Plus, each new addressee meant more postage, so we thought hard about whom to send things to. (Is it worth spending thirty-two cents for Loren to read this letter? Nah….)
E-mail bludgeoned that system in no time. With free sending to an infinite number of people now a reality, every little thought and impulse becomes instant communication. Our most pathetic meanderings become deep thoughts that we happily blast to six dozen colleagues who surely can't wait. On the receiving end, we collect these gems of wisdom from the dozens around us. The result: Inbox overload.
And here are the bullet points.
You really have to read the entire piece to comprehend some of these points. If you sned and receive a lot of e-mail it's worth it.
How you can send better e-mail:
Use a subject line to summarize, not describe.
Give your reader full context at the start of your message.
When you copy lots of people (a heinous practice that should
be used sparingly), mark out why each person should care.
Make action requests clear.
Separate topics into separate e-mails … up to a point.
Combine separate points into one message.
Edit forwarded messages.
When scheduling a call or conference, include the topic in the invitation.
It helps people prioritize and manage their calendar more effectively.
Make your e-mail one page or less.
Understand how people prefer to be reached, and how quickly they respond.
How to read and receive e-mail:
Check e-mail at defined times each day.
Use a paper "response list" to triage messages before you do any follow-up.
Charge people for sending you messages.
Train people to be relevant.
Send out delayed responses.