Email etiquette to save time and achieve an inbox zero

Monday January 16th, 2012, 10:46 am

A sure fire way to fight email overload and reach inbox zero is through good email etiquette. 

How many times have you read an email which says just ‘OK’ or ‘Thanks’?  What does the sender really mean.  Do they mean ‘thanks I have your response and will get back to you’.  ‘Thanks – end of conversation.’ 

Conversely, there is the long complex messages which you skim read a couple of time, have no clear idea what is really being said and park them for a while in the hope they will go away or send you a clearer follow-up.

I’d bet we have all been guilty of sending emails which fall in to both categories at some point in our lives. I have.
One crucial aspect of good email etiquette is the way the content of the email is structured.  Your goal must be to send the right message, right first time, no matter how short or long your message.  Writing in clear concise language is the starting point.  Even if the reply is short be precise about what you and saying.  For example, ‘Thanks – we will discuss your proposal and get back to you next week’.

Here are my three top tips.

  1. Avoid text speak at all costs – it’s confusing and does not convey a professional image.  Moreover not everyone understand text speak.
  2. Check you grammar and spelling.
  3. Re-read as many times as necessary before hitting send.  Ask yourself, ‘What will the recipient understand by what I am saying?’

For those like me who stiil struggle to write good English an invaluable aid is Lynne Truss’s book ‘Eats Shoots and Leaves’.

Using good email etiquette reduces the rounds of unnecessary email ping-pong as it limits the scope for misunderstanding.  In turn this helps you reduce the email overload and achieve an inbox zero that is an empty inbox.

For more tips and hints on how to improve your email etiquette follow me on Twitter as @emaildoctor.  This week’s daily tips focus on email etiquette to reduce the gap for misunderstanding.

For more time saving tips and hints why not buy a copy of one of our books or let us run a Smart Email Management workshop for you and your colleagues.
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