This Month's Timely Tip: 10 Tips for Getting LESS E-mails!
I constantly hear from people, "I just get SO MANY e-mails - even if I use your tips, I'm still buried!" And, in some jobs unfortunately, that is just the basic reality of the job - hundreds of e-mails daily. Now, I do believe that if you follow the systems and techniques I teach, you'll be able to manage those incoming e-mails better. But wouldn't it be nice if you actually started getting LESS e-mails? Here are some tips to help just that happen:
Stop sending so many e-mails!E-mails are like rabbits - the more you have, the more you'll likely get. In essence, every time you send out an e-mail, you are basically asking for one or more e-mail replies in response. Think carefully before sending a message - is this message necessary? Is it clear? Is it confusing? (If confusing or emotional, you are VERY likely to get a SERIES of reply messages.) Have you taken the time to consider whether the message actually needs to go out, and whether you have made it as clear and concise as possible?
Give people permission to NOT reply. Tell them in your message, "I am giving you this information so you can take the necessary action or retain this information for later. You do not need to reply unless confused or if you have questions." That will help get rid of the "Thanks!" "Got it!" "Received" replies, which, while only taking a couple seconds every time, will add up to days of lost productivity over time. (Use "NRN" in your messages? No Reply Necessary - put that in the subject line!)
PUTP: Pick Up the Phone! If the message is difficult, emotional, or naturally confusing, and you cannot easily get it into a clear and concise message, it frankly shouldn't even be an e-mail then! Pick up the phone or go find the person - the two-way nature of these conversations allows for a more efficient communications process on difficult/confusing topics/discussions. E-mail is primarily a ONE WAY communications tool, and is very poor for discussion and deliberation. Diagnose each communications situation, and use the correct communications tool for that situation.
Restrict Your Distribution Lists. Resist the temptation to include anybody and everybody in your e-mail send to list. The more people you add, likely the more replies and comments you will get. And, you open up the possibility that you'll lose control of the communication also, with side conversations and e-mail threads you are not even aware of taking place. Think carefully before sending a message to a group, "Does every person in this list actually NEED this message?" No, I'm not trying to limit or suppress the distribution of information - I'm instead trying to keep people from getting overwhelmed in that same information!
DON'T HIT REPLY ALL! I don't know how many times I've seen people quickly hit reply all when they receive a group distribution e-mail, even when they only have a quick comment that could have easily only gone to the original message writer. Think carefully before hitting "Reply All" -- you will save unnecessary additional work for yourself and many others on the team.
Related, use BCC for group distribution lists. If you are going to send out an e-mail to a larger group of people, one way to STOP reply all to the message is to put all of the recipients in the BCC field rather than the "To" or "CC" fields. Put yourself in the "To" field, and all other recipients in the BCC field - then, if any of the recipients hit reply all, their reply will only go to you. (Now, if you want to be just rotten, you could instead put your least-liked co-worker in the "To" field, so they get all of the replies.) ;-)
STOP Using Your Work E-mail Address for E-newsletters/Online Activities. If you are going to sign up for an e-news or any other kind of repeating periodic message, don't give them your work address. Instead, create an online e-mail account (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com) for just those types of messages. (Also consider this account for any online purchases/transactions, social media sign ups, app downloads, etc.) This way, you'll keep your work account focused on work, and have all of the lower value "junk/SPAM" in a different place.
DON'T Give Your WORK E-mail to Family/Friends. Also consider yet another e-mail account for all of those junk, joke, and JPEG messages from your family and friends, as well as the links to all of those really funny online videos. You don't want that stuff coming into your work account for several reasons, not the least of which is the distraction it creates.
Unsubscribe From Messages You No Longer Find Useful. If you are no longer getting benefit from a repeating message you have signed up for, or your situation in work or life has just changed, get rid of the messages no longer bringing high value. (Of course, my repeating messages are AWESOME, so don't unsubscribe from this.) ;-)
BUT, Be Careful with Unsubscribe! If you never signed up for the e-newsletter or other repeating message - it just "appeared" one day and you are not sure how - and you use the Unsubscribe option, you might unwittingly start getting MORE messages! Many unscrupulous e-mail marketers actually send out spammy messages to really huge lists, and actually then SELL those that unsubscribe to other spammers. (You see, when you unsubscribe, you just told the sender you look at your messages, open your messages, and take action on those messages - that makes your e-mail address even MORE valuable to other spammers. Grrrrr ....)
I think if you follow many or all of the tips above, you could greatly reduce some of the especially more annoying/distracting e-mails that you receive. And please share this message with others that are struggling with too many incoming e-mails - yes, I give you permission to do this this one time!
(By the way, this is just one of the many sets of tips and techniques for reducing distraction and e-distraction that I'll be sharing in my upcoming webinar onFrom Distracted to Productiveon February 23. You can learn more about that valuable program here. Use code "RandyDiscount" at checkout to get 20% off this or any of my other online programs. And if you have several people interested, contact me for additional per-person discounts.)
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