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Email overload – dealing with email chains

Posted Monday October 10th, 2011, 9:30 am by

Email chains are a major cause of email overload.  You know the symptoms:

Email chain

  • Endless ‘Reply All’ emails about a topic;
  • Ever expanding lists of names in both the Cc and To box;
  • The content but not the subject-line changes;
  • No indication of what is expected from you – if anything.

Then there is the corollary – people who feel left out and feel they should be included.  Take a look and see what percentage of the emails in your inbox relate to a thread/chain?  How many of the iterations do you really need?  Probably less then 25%.  Little wonder email overload is on the increase.

Email chains seem to be the bane of most people’s life at the inbox.  There are several ways to manage these more successfully which range from personal email management techniques to better use of the software.  Here are the top three, some of which were in our October 2011 ‘ebriefing’ on tips to help you overcome email overload and use brilliant email etiquette to save time.

  1. Be judicious about who you include in the first place.  Avoid broadcasting to the world.  Ask yourself does this person really need to be included?
  2. Use your email software; most software has a feature to allow you to view by ‘thread’.
  3. Change medium. Stop the email chain and have a proper discussion by phone, Skype, even face-to-face.

The key is to stop the email chain once it gets out of hand and re-assess just what you are trying to achieve and who really needs to make an input.

During the week there will be more tips on managing email chains.

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  • A nightmare for me is to open my mail and found it full of chain mail. I usually not continuous chains, nay, not even open them. I would like to know many more tips to keep my email collapses.