Emails have revolutionised communication. How often do you now lick a stamp and post a letter?
However, the ease and speed of email have come at a price. We now get vastly more mail than we could have imagined a decade ago. This often results in being over-whelmingly busy, but not necessarily productive.
To get your email load back under control and reduce stress, here are a few simple procedures to follow.
1. Use the To: and CC: fields correctly
Only use To: for those who have to take action and CC: for those who only need to be made aware passively. If you have more than one person in the To: field the odds are no-one or everyone will do the job. So you fail or waste resources. If you must put more than one person in the To: field, make it clear in the content what is expected of each.
2. Have a clear flow
I use the acronym SCRAP, which stands for Situation, Complication, Resolution, Action and Politeness.
- Situation is the agreed current position and sets the boundaries of what is being discussed.
- Complication is why the current Situation is no longer acceptable, or can be improved on.
- Resolution is the big picture solution to the issue.
- Actions are the specific things that the recipient needs to do to accomplish the Resolution.
- Politeness is encouragement so they feel good about doing it.
3. Use escalation
Level 1: Send a standard email.
Level 2: Send an email with the High Importance flag.
Level 3: Send an email with the High Importance flag and Read Receipt (under Options in Outlook).
Level 4: Accept that an email won’t guarantee the outcome and use Skype or the phone to get a live response.
4. Use the full functionality of Skype
Many people still think of Skype as video conferencing with their relatives on their computer. It has far more levels.
i. Load the free app onto your phone.
ii. Link to critical customers and suppliers.
iii. Use it as a text Chat program when instant responses are required, rather than playing delayed email tag.
iv. Use it to quickly transfer large files.
v. Use it as a phone or video with your data allowance (or WiFi) when it is cost effective to do so.
vi. Load up some cash so you can call landlines and mobiles at very low rates.
5. The less emails you send, the less you get
If you are addressed in the To: field of an email, acknowledge receipt and what you have done – no matter how succinctly. Do not leave the other person in the dark, as they will spray more emails to you and others to identify progress.
Practice becoming briefer and clearer the first time, plus give options for different circumstances. In this way you can make one email work rather than initiating a chain.
If you have any further productivity tips please leave a reply on the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe to receive further articles and special offers!