One thing’s sure: we all work with email. We even use them to communicate and organize our personal lives. But if you really think about it, what are emails really for? Collaborating? Planning? Managing? Group discussions? In fact, none of the above.
Emails were designed for one on one conversations (or small groups conversations at most). They should not be used to synchronize a team or plan an event, because over-using emails simply leads to productivity loss and a waste of time.
Here are 10 bad emails habits you need to stop doing now.
1. CC’ing unnecessary people for « FYI »
CC’ing people to update them on information almost always leads to confusion. The person CC’ed wonders if he needs to take action. Should they respond? Should they forward your info? A CC’ed email contains information that most people won’t be able to process anyway.
2. Using the « Reply to All » button
When you receive an email with multiple people CC’ed, don’t automatically send your answer to everyone! You’ll just end up polluting everyone else’s inbox. Try only answering the person concerned; it doesn’t necessarily need to become a group discussion.
3. Picking the wrong subject line
The subject should be well chosen. Don’t just write « Hello from … »; instead, try to give as many details as you can in the shortest format possible. For example: « Meeting 02/15 Documents ». When receiving the email, your correspondent needs to understand what your email is about just by reading its subject. Don’t make them guess what’s inside; be explicit and concise.
4. Using capitalized letters
Using CAPITALIZED letters won’t make your email more urgent than others, and by the way, you should not be the one deciding what’s urgent in someone else’s inbox. In an email, capitalized letters are interpreted as aggressive and intrusive SCREAMING, and they don’t build a constructive conversation.
5. Not prioritizing answers
Not every email need to be answered right away. So you should classify and prioritize them accordingly. The problem is, your inbox is the worst tool to use. In fact, your best bet might be an external application. The perfect email is an email that can be deleted; it’s not supposed to hold information. So you need to prioritize your answers in your to do list and transfer the information that an email contains to another place.
6. Using unnecessary words
Just like your email subject line, your email body should be very explicit and concise. Go straight to the point and avoid as much unnecessary blah-blah as possible. Most people don’t read everything in their emails, so if you facilitate the job by giving short useful information, by bulletproofing your content and by saying which actions should be taken, you’re saving everyone tons of time (and you’re making people happy).
7. Using email for everything
Whether you need to say something to someone, to send information and documents, to share an idea and gather feedback, to plan an event or to synchronize your team, don’t use emails every time. Try to think about the message you want to deliver, and use the right tool for each specific message. Emails are not always the right medium to communicate what you need.
8. Managing a team project with email
Managing a team project with email often leads to frustration, misunderstanding, confusion and in the end, a bad outcome. When you’re organizing a team project, you need to delegate tasks, share information and follow up on everyone’s work. But emails are just a way to communicate, not plan. Change your habits and find a better way to manage your teamwork without email!
9. Classifying your email
Stop wasting your time classifying your emails. One good thing about email inboxes is that there’s a search bar. This feature allows you to find any information at any time. Classifying your emails will just take a lot of time for very poor productivity improvements.
10. Sticking with email because…
It’s the only way to organize your work and the only communication tool you know? Maybe it’s time to change the way you work with your team and with your clients, and not to mention, the way you plan your day.