Do’s And Don’ts
Spending some time thinking about how we use email as a communication tool can help you become more efficient in your outgoing communication while also helping other people you communicate with process your emails more easily, or not need to process them at all!
We could offer you endless advice on this topic, but it wouldn’t be very efficient to take up so much of your time. So we have made a summary of the universal improvements most likely to help you optimize your emailing practices.
When Receiving Email
- Check your email no more than a couple of times per day
- Disable new email notifications
- Answer email within 2 working days, or inform the sender that you will get back to him or her later
- If you can’t respond to emails within two working days, turn on your Out-of-Office assistant
Tip: Also turn off new email notifications on your smart phone. Our preferred settings are manual fetch or no alerts at all.
When Sending Email
- Make sure the subject is clear and informative
- Get to the point and use clear language
- Know when NOT to use email (when emotions or conflicts are involved)
- If it is important, don’t rely on email alone
Tip Use the 80/20 subject rule when sending email. This means that you check your subject line just before you send the email to ensure it clarifies at least 80% of the email’s content for your reader(s). In general, improving your email’s subject line will result in quicker responses and less misunderstanding.
When Replying to Email
- Avoid use of CC and Reply to all
- Inform a third party of relevant discussions by forwarding your sent email and including an explanation
- Don’t use an existing email thread to open a new topic (or at least change the subject line)
- When in doubt, park your response for a little while (especially if it is an important matter)
Tip: Use the forward over copy rule. This is the habit of choosing not to use CC or Reply to all. Instead, send your email to the intended addressee, then go to your Sent items and forward the message to the person you would like copy in, including a short line explaining why you are informing him or her. This person is better informed (‘FYI’ is very different then ‘please keep an eye on this’), and if your email turns into a longer conversation, the third person is not bothered by emails snowballing their inbox.