Re: your pointless
Are you wasting hours of your time
sending and managing too much worthless email? Jane
Perrone provides ten top tips for how to stay on message
Wednesday July 23, 2003
Pointless email messages are costing
UK businesses millions of pounds a year, according to
new research by business writing consultants Emphasis.
It's not a surprising conclusion, considering that Emphasis
makes a living teaching employees how to make effective
use of email. But there's little doubt that for many
workers email has become a preoccupation that distracts
them from the job in hand. As Emphasis senior consultant
Robert Ashton puts it:
"Just because email is free, that
doesn't mean it's cheap."
So how does one navigate the minefield
of workplace email communication? After more than a
decade of using email, I have established my personal
1. Think before you send every email:
would it be quicker, more efficient, and more friendly
to phone or even walk over to the person and talk to
them in person?
2. If you're emailing Doris in accounts,
don't cc your message to everyone in the company just
so you can share your razor-sharp witticism about P60
forms with 200 people. It wastes bandwidth (a measure
of the amount of data that can be transmitted by your
email network at any time), clogs up other peoples inboxes
and ultimately, isn't that funny. In fact, people will
hate you for it.
3. Don't let your email inbox overflow.
Try to deal with every email as soon as possible by
responding to the message, deleting it, flagging it
for attention later or filing it away.
4. Don't send email attachments unless
you absolutely have to. They eat up bandwidth and often
can't be opened by other people. Could you place the
document on a server that everyone can access or add
the text to the body of the email instead?
5. Don't forward every "hilarious"
jpeg/virus warning/chain letter you receive from friends
to everyone in your address book. If it's a virus warning
it's probably a hoax, and if it's that funny, most people
will already have seen it. If you must, limit your forwards
to a few close friends and clearly mark your email as
frivolous spam in the subject line. People will begin
ignoring every email that you send - including the important
ones - if you bombard them with spam.
6. Always include an informative subject
line in your email: this helps your colleagues to locate
it in their inbox and gives them an idea of how important
it is, so they can read the message marked "your
pay rise" before the one called "has anyone
seen my X Files mouse mat?"
7. Try to avoid bitching about colleagues
to other members of staff via emails: the old adage
applies: if you wouldn't write it on a postcard, don't
write it in an email. Many firms monitor staff email
usage and you never know when someone could be reading
messages over your shoulder. And it is all to easy to
hit the reply button rather than forward and end up
sending your rant to the very person you are moaning
8. Before you fire off an angry email
to someone, save the message on draft and take half
an hour (or a day if you're really angry) to let yourself
cool down. Then take another look at the message and
decide whether to send or delete it.
9. Make every email you send count:
don't rush a message off in 10 seconds. Spelling mistakes,
sloppy grammar and half-formed sentences make you look
slapdash. Having said that, each company has its own
unwritten rules about the degree of formality required
in electronic communications: work out what they are
and follow them.
10. And finally, be forgiving of colleagues'
email faux pas. If a colleague sends you an email that
you deem to be rude, just remember that tone is completely
lost in electronic communications, and it may be that
they were trying to be funny or simply rushed off a
message in a moment of anger and instantly regretted