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5 Essential Tips to Get Your Work Email to Work

By Ted Skinner

    Wed, Mar 2, 2016 @ 09:00 AM Strategy Execution, Accountable Leaders & Teams

    Alberto P., one of our subscribers, asked, "What's a better way to manage my email?"iStock_000075266777_Large.jpg

    Great question! I get a LOT of email, and it sounds like you do, too. And, I know that we are not alone. According to a recent study performed by The Radicati Group, the typical office worker sends and receives over 125 emails per day. That averages one email every four minutes of a typical work day! That may sound overwhelming, but most of the executives our Rhythm Systems consultants work with actually get more than that! Email has become the de facto form of business communication over the last decade, yet most people spend little time thinking about how to better utilize this business tool.

    Well, you’re in luck as I have done the research and found the following tips to leverage your email communications.

    5 Tips for Better Email: 

    • Start with an informative subject line. As the sender, your job is to let the recipient know the nature of the email. The quicker they can get the gist of your communication, the more likely they are to interact with the information. A subject line of “Meeting” is not nearly as helpful as “Sales Data Requested for Friday’s Weekly Meeting.” 
    • Brevity and clarity are key. There is a fine line between including all of the needed information for the communication and overloading an email so much that it becomes unreadable. Think about the story that you need to tell, and keep it to that and only that. For example, if you need to have a meeting with someone, let them know the topic(s) you’d like to cover, but save the discussion for the meeting itself.
    • Proofread before you hit send. Do yourself a favor and re-read the email prior to hitting send. This is a reflection of your professionalism and attention to detail. Spend the extra thirty seconds to read it one more time and make sure that your tone is polite, professional and free of errors.
    • Keep in mind that email isn’t secure. Don’t put anything in writing that you wouldn’t say with the appropriate people in the room. Remember, the recipients of your email can easily forward it to others not on the original list – either intentionally or by mistake. Assume that anything you write about people, clients, business decisions, etc. could end up in anyone’s inbox at any time. 
    • Use helpful formatting. Put key ideas and concepts into clear bullet points to make it easier for the recipient to digest the information. Have a list of action items that need to get done? Create them in a numbered list. Have a hard deadline?  Ensure the deadline isn’t overlooked by putting the due date in bold letters so it clearly stands out from the rest of the text.

    You should also consider that email may not be the best method of communication. Often, both people would save time if they just picked up the phone and had a quick call to discuss and quickly resolve the issue. Some subjects are best discussed in person, but I realize that sometimes this is impossible or cost prohibitive. In those cases, I recommend trying Skype, Google Hangouts or a similar video conferencing service so you can get some virtual face time to connect with the other person.

    If you are emailing about your company’s growth strategies, priorities and the like, there is a better way.  How many times have you been discussing a key initiative and had to stop the discussion to open up an email system and search through thousands of emails to find the one that you sent six months ago? At Rhythm Systems, our patented software allows you to comment directly on all of your annual Key Initiatives, Quarterly Priorities, KPIs and more. Since the discussion stays with the software, there is no need to look back and find the information - it is right there at your fingertips.

    Best of both worlds, commenting in Rhythm will then alert the others in your group via email. They can reply directly in the email, and our software will also automatically attach it to the correct item! This allows your team the ability and flexibility to communicate on the go, while still keeping a convenient audit trail of the conversation, saving time and money.

    Now, it's time for me to go, as I have received at least twenty emails while writing this blog post. I hope these tips save you time and energy, while reducing your frustration with this valuable communication tool. If you have any other tips and tricks, please feel free to mention them in the comments below.

    -Ted

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