Emails should be clear, concise and contain the full information rather than just a snippet of it
By their nature, emails should really be considered more like short letters or notes, and that was what they were in the beginning. Over time, however, they have moved away from that form and they have become equal to text messages, a tool to shoot short, disjointed messages that are often unclear and require a lot of feedback and back-checking with the sender. They have lost their usefulness, in a way, because they are treated like a conversation rather than an information exchange tool.
Give emails a proper, meaningful name that is conducive to email filing and retrieval
It is amazing how many people send emails with empty subject lines or subject lines that are completely useless when it comes to email filing and retrieval. No subject line is bad enough, but having something like “Re: Fwd: Fwd: Re: Re: yesterday’s drinks” on an email concerning client business is not only useless for retrieval, but it can potentially be embarrassing when dealing with the client later.
Revisit email threads and clean out irrelevant or repetitive information
There is a point to be made to keep all relevant information in an email thread and not modify the forwarded information. However, emails grow in length the longer the conversation takes, and you may want to consider thinking about not re-sending attachments or maybe removing signatures or images in earlier stages of the thread to make the email lighter.
After these practical tips to make working with existing emails easier, let’s have a look at how you deal with incoming emails:
Avoid reading new emails as they come in, if at all possible. Turn off any sound effects and pop-up windows to avoid the temptation to do this all the time.
If you read and react to incoming emails straight away, you may lose a lot of time doing so. Each time you interrupt what you are doing, you lose your train of thought! Multitasking has been shown to only work in specific circumstances, and jumping between similar task like drafting a document and reading incoming emails are not one of them.
A better and more time-efficient way is to ensure that you look at new emails when the work you are currently doing comes to natural break. That could be after having finished explaining one particular thing and moving to another in a draft document, or finishing writing an email, any natural break will do. When such a natural break occurs, have a quick look at your inbox and deal with what’s there. Then return to the main task at hand. This will prove to be much more efficient than interrupting and restarting all the time.
Ask the ClutterMeister
Some pertinent ideas from the 'old office dog' who has seen it all, to help clear away the mess in your office.
Sign up for FREE decluttering advice
My name is Tilo Flache and it is my mission to help my clients organise and declutter their work spaces.