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Dan Tynen (7 Days in Email Hell) needs our help!
Incoming e-mail is not necessarily a bad thing! The problem is not with e-mail, it’s with the kind of e-mail you get, the way we perceive e-mail, and the way we manage e-mail.
Here are our three key e-mail productivity principles:
- Your in-box represents other people’s priorities, not yours - So stop being their slave, and take control of your life
- E-mail is for deferred, not immediate, communication - So stop reacting and start responding
- E-mail is just one communication channel (of many) - So just stop using e-mail for everything
- Unnecessary (e.g. E-zines we never read, Facebook notifications): Cancel the subscriptions, turn off notifications
- Unwanted (Spam): Delete them automatically
- Inappropriate/Misdirected (E-mail that can be handled by other channels - such as RSS, phone, face-to-face): Switch channels
- Unproductive (Jokes and time-wasters, chain letters, staff checking in because you haven’t delegated well, irrelevant cc’s): Ask them to stop
- Unimportant (e.g. useful e-zines, some notifications): Filter them automatically
- Separate checking from processing
- Check e-mail less frequently
- Turn off automatic notifications of new mail
- When checking your in-box, just move items to other folders rather than processing anything
- After processing, ask yourself: How can I prevent another e-mail like this?
- Use a relevant subject line
- Use a signature with phone number and other contact info
- Write one topic per message (split multi-topic messages into multiple e-mails)
- Don’t ask obvious questions that Google could answer (e.g. checking time zones)
- Spell check & re-read before hitting send
- Don’t send “out of context” messages that force others to search old e-mails for information
- Quote sparingly; enough to provide context but no more
- Establish some conventions and shorthand within your team
- Think carefully about each and every recipient you include in the To: & Cc: lines
- End each e-mail with a clear idea of what you want next