As I was saying yesterday, your email says a lot about who you are and how you interact with others. You can gain a customer or lose one. Deepen a friendship or splinter it. It’s your choice.
If you find that your email is getting the better of you, here are 9 suggestions to put you back in control.
- Check it at least 3x a day and act on it. My preference is to sit down at my computer in the morning, before lunch and at the end of the work day, set my timer and give my email my full attention.
- Respond immediately or send it off to someone who will. The rule for paper was not to let your hands touch anything more than three times. In technological terms, don't scroll over and read something more than three times without acting on it.
- Get a smartphone and have your email accounts sent to it. And don't forget to use it. You don't have to wait until you are in front of your computer to read an email .
- Organize your email. Separate the importance stuff from the newsletters you can’t seem to live without. I use Apple’s Mail Preferences which allows me to set up rules for my email. This enables me to send email directly to folders I have set up. For example, I have a folder for Shopping Newsletters, which prevents my Daily Candy from competing for time with a potential client. I have a folder for my Inspiration Newsletters which is where I collect all those inspiring daily quotes I like to read. I have one for News of the Day that gets my NYTimes and WSJ updates. This keeps my main email inbox clean for the important stuff that needs my immediate attention.
- If you are so “busy” and so inundated that you can’t find the time to manage your email, you need to take a look at what exactly you are so "busy" with. Your problem may be bigger than your email. It may be your time management.
- Use spell check. And then proofread spell check. If the content is really important, forget about the trees for a moment and print it out before sending. It is amazing what typos and inconsistencies show up when you are reading from a piece of paper that you won’t catch on your computer screen.
- If it’s a really important communication, let it sit for a while and reread before hitting send. Especially if it is something that has you emotional. Think of it as soup you are preparing, that needs time to simmer before it is ready to be served.
- When replying to something that has a distribution list, slow down before you hit send to make sure it's going to exactly who you want it to. Because once you hit send you can't take it back.
- Remember this is email. You are putting more than your important words in writing. You are putting you in. And with the click of the forwarding tab, your message can be sent anywhere to anyone, with or without your knowledge. Take the time to make sure it is leaving the impression you want it to.
Do you have tips to add? What do you consider email best practices?