If you’re like me (and I think many of you are), emails make up around 75 percent of your communication at work. Want to send better email and be a better emailer in general?
I’m sharing my tips.
Hey, listen: I’m far from perfect at emailing. I do not always say the right thing, I lose things all the time and I take way too long to answer emails that are important. But I do my best!
Only touch it once.
When I get an email, I scan the subject line and first line or two (whatever my preview shows!). In that moment, I decide if I can, should or want to deal with it in that moment. If I have the time, think it’s important or feel compelled to deal with the email right away, I also need to decide if I can actually deal with it.
Do I need to ask another person a question before I send a reply? Do I need to finish a task before I reply? Am I missing an important file?
As best as I can, I strive to only touch an email once. Sometimes, I get halfway through and don’t realize that I am missing something. But to the best of my abilities, I only touch it once. This saves time and reduces your opportunities to accidentally archive something, send something in error or forget to reply.
Tag it as important, add it to your to do list and leave it for when you have everything you need to reply.
Use email scheduling.
Google finally added a “Send Later” feature, and listen: It is a godsend.
I spend a lot of my time emailing with people outside of my company – connecting with other people in similar roles in media organizations, setting up meetings with potential clients, planning advertising and confirming creative, that sort of thing.
I also send a lot of initial pitches via email! And most of those things aren’t urgent and are better received in the middle of the week and in the morning, rather than at 4:30 p.m. on a Thursday, which may be when I have a free second to write an email.
Take advantage of email scheduling to get ahead, to hit a client or coworker at the best time and even to send yourself or your team little reminders. It’s glorious and makes you an all-around better emailer.
I have a lot of opinions on why it can take so many emails just to confirm the date and time of a meeting, but I highly recommend that to be a better emailer, you avoid the constant back-and-forth.
I mean, seriously:
“Do you have time to meet next week?”
“Sure, how about Tuesday or Wednesday?”
“That’d be great. I’m free on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
“Super. My afternoon on Tuesday is open after 1 p.m.”
“How about sometime between 2 and 4 p.m.?
“Sure, let’s do 3 p.m. Does that work?”
I mean, I’m being slightly dramatic, but only slightly.
Avoid the back-and-forths. If you’re trying to set up a meeting with a coworker, check their calendar – if they’re in your same Google Suite, you can share calendars back and forth. Perhaps they don’t update their calendar, but honestly… how?
You can also set up an easy, peasy Calendly link. That’s my favorite tool for setting up meetings with people who want to talk to me! They can choose a time that suits their needs and I can avoid ten emails to schedule a 30-minute call.
Every time I ask to meet with someone and they reply with a Calendly link, my eyes turn into hearts.
Use your inbox like a to do list.
It’s very easy to loose track of emails – and to loose track of yourself, because of all of the emails you need to deal with.
Treat your inbox like a to do list.
Star things that need to be dealt with or replied to or read in greater detail. Delete or archive the things you don’t need.
And when they’ve been dealt with, archive the starred emails, too.