8 Critical Email Rules for Optimal Efficiency

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Although you have many other communication options (e.g. zoom, teams, phone calls, SMS), email still dominates everyday work. Thorough control of your inbox can help you work more efficiently and increase the productivity of the entire company. These are the best email rules for getting effective results.

Related: 6 tips to tame your email and maximize your time management

1. Select the recipients carefully

Using CC makes email addresses open without permission and feels less personal. Clicking “Reply All” can clutter your inboxes with messages that people don’t really need to see. Use BCC to make your message appear exclusive, and only use Reply All when you need to reply to everyone in the original email.

Your org chart can help you decide who should be directly involved in a conversation. In general, leaders should be given a clear reason for including them in the discussion. Once they know you are taking action on a matter, you can move them to BCC to drop them off the email chain.

2. Stay clean and short

Including your message thread is a best practice because it will deter users from looking for your original email. But ideally, you only add one subject to your new message so people don’t accidentally skip something important. If you need to make multiple points, use bullets and summarize everything on the top five lines or less. Separate bullets and paragraphs with blank lines, stick to no more than 15-20 words per sentence, and only add attachments if they’re productive and approved by the recipient.

In addition to making your email more visually appealing, simple formatting is required as the platform or device your recipient is using may not interpret things like certain colors or fonts. If you stay straightforward, the risk of losing your intention is small. Once you’ve received a clean, short email, always proofread it. It only takes a minute, but it can save you the colossal embarrassment, reduce the time it takes to resolve, and stop conflicts before they start.

3. Think about your tone

Any type of written communication can be more difficult to interpret because you don’t have to pay attention to facial expressions or body language cues. When sending an email, it is important to think about how your presentation will be received. For now, leave out emojis / emoticons as they reflect a looser relationship than would be appropriate. Likewise, abbreviations can be confusing and make people feel left out, especially with new hires. Just write down what you mean.

4. Perfect your subject line

The more specific and meaningful your subject line, the more likely it is that the recipient will open your message. It also helps recipients look up messages for reference later. Personalized e-mail lines are opened more frequently, so it is worth specifying the recipient’s name or using “you / your”. Since most platforms cut off subject fields, stick to around 40 characters (about seven words). Only use ** RUSH ** if it is true – otherwise it will lose its functionality over time.

5. Get control of your feelings (but don’t wait forever)

Wait and let the emotions cool off before writing your email. This will prevent you from sending a message that you will regret later. Taking a positive approach can help others improve their negative feelings as well. This prevents people from reading your heated message about something that may already be resolved by the time they get your email. Once you are calm enough to write, remember to use basic courtesies such as saying “thank you”.

That being said, the golden rule of email is to reply as soon as possible. If you can’t reply within an hour, try to reply at least the same working day, even if the reply just says you will come back later.

6. Watch what you pass on

This ties in with point # 1 above – no matter who you send the email to, leave confidential or private information for personal interactions. There can be good intentions when sending chain letters, charity proposals, or similar messages, but not everyone wants these emails. Even if they do, too many people sending them around creates a huge mess.

To prevent you from passing on anything that could create a legal problem or internal conflict, simply ask yourself if what you are passing on would be appropriate on your company letterhead. If not, watch out. If you’re ever unsure whether something is phishing or a hoax, report it to your IT department and click Delete.

7. Answer expected questions

The reason for this is simple: if you answer what people ask in advance, they won’t flood your inbox with messages based on those questions. It’s also polite and trustworthy to show that you are thinking about their needs and point of view.

8. Use filters

Options like marking messages or moving them to different folders mean that your email client will organize your messages by default. You can organize your messages by priority level, subject, or even project. Whichever filters you use, you can easily remove the leftovers by unsubscribing from messages or moving groups of messages to the trash.

Related: This is how to keep your employees engaged and safe when they work from home

Email can be a beast if you don’t tame it. Sticking to these guidelines will help. As you implement each point, the final rule to keep in mind is that your inbox is never your to-do list. Filter messages by Her true priorities instead of letting them dictate the day. Don’t let your inbox drag you into the weeds.

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