Email is one of our primary means of communication, yet so many people make so many mistakes with it. If someone doesn’t reply to someone when speaking to them in-person, it’s considered extremely rude; yet somehow, it’s okay to leave an email conversation abruptly? Not cool. Here are 9 things you shouldn’t do with email.
1. You shouldn’t leave someone hanging.
For a lot of correspondences, all you need to respond to an email are two letters: o and k. Actually, the person on the receiving will probably understand you with just a k. Send a letter or two to confirm that you received someone’s email. Even better, give them an idea of when you’ll get back to them. But, at the very least, leaving someone lingering is something you shouldn’t do with email.
2. You shouldn’t ask something urgent in email.
Even though we all have our email accounts on our smartphones, not everybody is going to be checking their email unless you give them a real reason to. If you need a response by the end of the day, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Waiting for them to check their messages is something you absolutely shouldn’t do with email.
3. You shouldn’t write a novella in an email.
Almost no one’s going to read anything longer longer than 1000 words, and even that’s pushing it. Compress most of your messages into 500 words or less.
4. You shouldn’t use your inbox as a to-do list.
An email is a terrible to-do list. Unless you’re emailing yourself regular memos, not everything you need to get done in a day is going to pop up in your inbox. However, email can make a great second to-do list. Use the app Mailbox (for iOS, Android and in Beta for OS X) to save email chains you’re not ready to archive.
5. You shouldn’t let your inbox pile up.
Letting your messages stack up is something you shouldn’t do with email. Your goal should be to get your inbox to zero emails, or as close to zero as possible. The Mailbox app comes in handy again here, letting you sort some emails into lists and save others for later so that you can reach zero with relative ease.
6. You shouldn’t over-think an email.
You can definitely spend too long crafting an email. After a while, there’s nothing you can do to make your email any better. In fact, if you noodle with it for too long, you’ll likely start to make your message worse.When you’re 95% sure of its contents, just let the email fly.
7. You shouldn’t under-think an email.
I mentioned above that you should send an email when you have 95% certainty. Any level of scrutiny lower than that is dangerous. Grammar errors and typos are a death knell when you’re applying to a job or trying to pick up a new client. Likewise, if you’re sending a very serious, very personal email, make sure the message has exactly the right tone.
8. You shouldn’t write something original for every email.
Only people new to lifehacking craft an entirely new message for everyone they’re emailing. That’s a habit you absolutely shouldn’t do with email. Productivity experts save templates of common messages they have to email into a note-taking service like Evernote or OneNote. A true pro even has a text expansion app which only necessitates a few keystrokes to send a long message.
9. You shouldn’t be too exclamatory in your emails.
An excess of exclamation marks is really annoying!!!! Same goes for questions marks, ellipses and especially emoticons. If you write emails super casually, the person you’re emailing won’t take you seriously. Even if you’re just emailing back and forth with a friend, you might want to try using professional language just to get in the habit of it.
Featured photo credit: Recrea HQ via flickr.com