E-mail overuse and misuse is killing many organisations productivity and morale. We believe firm action is needed. From being in many different organisations, with different cultures, we have distilled the issues into 13 rules. See how many you can stick to.
- The first thing we noticed is the people who complain most about e-mail volumes are often digital addicts. They might not be sending lots but they can’t leave alone reading the stuff. If you create a readership you encourage more production.
- To e-mail that needs a reply, do it promptly. If the person responds with a thank you (probably unnecessarily) don’t feel the need to send one back saying no problem!
- Consider e-mail you are being copied in on (cc e-mail) as spam. Delete it without reading it. Tell people this. If they want you to read it they must send it directly to you with a reason why you should read it. FYI is not allowed.
- Never blind copy, its political e-mail. Tell people who blind copy you to cease otherwise you will expose them.
- Don’t forward e-mail for the same reason.
- Don’t send trivial e-mail about the sandwich guy, last night’s TV, youtube links etc. Go and see these people and chat. See next point.
- The priority order should be: 1. See them, 2. Phone them, 3. Only e-mail them if it’s critical.
- Write short e-mails, avoid attachments where ever possible.
- E-mailing people on the same floor as you should be considered rude and bad mannered.
- If you are collaborating on a document, don’t keep sending it around by e-mail, use collaborative software, put it on your intranet or web space.
- Turn off e-mail alerts, only look at e-mail at certain times of the day.
- Realise that if you respond to e-mail out of hours or weekends you encourage people to send you more of the stuff.
- Ask your organisation to write an e-mail policy that not only covers all the legal and compliance stuff, but also covers best practice as well. Demand they enforce it.
Tell us how you get on – an e-mail is fine!