Whenever we are coaching people we hear this issue time and time again. “Emails are so time consuming”. And quite frankly, we couldn’t agree more. And while there are more tools that some companies are using which involve other platforms instead of email, there are still a large number of companies trying to cut down the number of emails flying around.
Luckily there are some handy hints to help you cut down. And I’m sure that anyone reading this probably has a few more hints to add so we’ve love to hear them…….
Send fewer emails
Ok this one might sound a little obvious but it’s amazing how many people still send emails when they could just pick up the phone or call an express standing meeting to brainstorm something quickly. Once the email has gone to and fro a few times, a new communication plan is probably required.
Ease up on the ‘cc’
Does everyone on that email really have to be on the distribution list? Are there other ways that people can get the info easily as part of regular updates?
Email is for confirmation not conversation
Close friend of NEP Judith Beck of Financial Executive Women, says this so beautifully – email is for confirmation, not conversation. When you know how to run impactful meetings, or you have a quick phone call you can come up with the highlights that need to be confirmed on emails and circulated if required but not requiring a whole conversation to go with it.
Do more work in your emails that you do send
For example, this could be something like, “If you are ok to do this, then I propose next steps could be x,y,z” rather than just are you ok with x as the next step?” Or if you are trying to set up a meeting, also propose times and locations for someone to choose from. Basically try to think a few steps ahead of what could be involved in other emails and deal with a few issues together.
Use your out of office response to manage expectations of your response time
When you respond to emails quickly you are training people that if they email you quickly they will get a quick response. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal if they want to offload some of their work onto you! When they get an out of office from you suggesting that you won’t reply for at least a couple of hours, you may be very surprised at how many people can learn to sort out their own problems just by thinking a little harder as you’ve made it less convenient for them to make extra work for you.
If your role is to be with clients, then surely the sender realises that you are probably with other clients if you aren’t with them. This is a big one in our business given that we are usually presenting or coaching. I usually respond within 24 hours but our clients know if they need a quicker response, or to speak me with at short notice, they can contact Karen who will hash out a plan very quickly to make that happen.
Out of office responses also allow you to focus your energy credits on something else without feeling like you are missing something or letting people down. If you are at a course, then truly be at that course instead of checking email every 15 minutes underneath your desk and truly learn what that course is teaching you.
What can you unsubscribe from?
Well obviously not NEP blogs – ours are super useful 😀, But perhaps you subscribe to a number of different email lists that kind of give you similar info. If so, just pick one. And send all of your personal email subscriptions to your personal account – coz we certainly don’t want to miss any bargains on potential holidays! So chunk these together and deal with them later instead of having to wade through them in your work email account.
Send emails whenever you like – but be very clear that you don’t expect a response
Different people work on different schedules, have different leisure and family schedules etc. It’s important that people can work flexibly. The trick is to make sure that that the people receiving the emails don’t feel compelled to respond to emails at strange times. Often it helps to set up a plan where if something is really urgent you will text, otherwise a response on email within a certain amount of time is acceptable.
If you would like some help to set up a far more productive email culture then please do get in touch.