Summary. For some people, the time needed to reply to the quantity of new daily email exceeds the time in a day. Below are some strategies for more efficient use and management of email. Most of these practices and techniques benefit the sender and receiver of email, as well as promoting best practices.
- Article Summaries. When sending articles, it helps to take an excerpt from the article that best conveys what is being said, and/or include a summary of the article for those who don’t have time to read the entire article.
- Automatic Reply. Consider including a courtesy reply in the emails you send. This way, the recipient simply needs to click reply and send rather than drafting a reply.
- Be Concise. Keep replies as short as possible. At first, people may think you are being rude. You may want to explain to family and friends that you’re simply trying to save time by shortening your responses. Communications by e-mail is similar to communications in person or on the phone. Everyone has different tolerance levels for extended chatting when they are busy. It’s like knowing people’s individual boundaries, and respecting those.
- Blind Carbon Copy (BCC). Use BCC when you are sending to a large group to avoid having one person inadvertently reply to all.
- Carbon Copy (CC). Use the carbon copy feature to send a message to a group of people if you want the group of recipients to know who is in the group, and/or if your message is intended to initiate some dialog or group collaboration. If the message is about an upcoming event, and someone was mistakenly left off the list, others in the group can correct for the oversight.
- Forwarding. When forwarding a message that has been forwarded numerous times, try to clean up the message before sending it. Many forwarded messages are hoaxes. So, you may want to do a little research before simply clicking forward and sending it to all your friends.
- Interwoven Contextual Replies. Replies can be less time consuming if you place them intermingled with the text of the message you just received. This avoids having to restate the question or statement you are responding to. For example, if a lengthy paragraph, is ultimately summarized as a yes or no question, then simply write the word Yes or No below that paragraph rather than writing a fresh email and re-stating what the person has said in their original email below.
- Links. If your website software or service promotes it, include links in your email by having the actual words linked. Usually this involves highlighting a word or phrase, and then right clicking (or control click on some Apple computers), and choose link. Google offers this feature in the toolbar above where you write a new email. Sometimes long website links get broken. By making a word or phrase a hyperlinked text, the reader simply needs to click on the linked (underlined) word(s).
- Mailing Lists. To keep in touch with various organizations, causes, or businesses, consider creating bookmarks or favorites for their websites and then unsubscribe from their mailing lists.
- Personal Monthly Newsletter. For the emails you send out, such as forwarded stories, news articles, videos, jokes, or other items of interest, consider waiting for a week or a month and reviewing those. Choose the best of the best, and send them out as a single email. It will save you time and save time for the recipients since it reduces the number of emails they need to open.
- Reading Time. Hopefully you carefully edit your longer emails, by reading them over a few times. Consider timing yourself as you read, and then including an estimated reading time for email messages so people know up front how much time the message will take. Particularly if there are sections to the email.
- Reply to Sender Not All. When replying to a message sent to a group, consider if your reply really needs to go out to the entire group. Most of the time, a simple note to the sender is all that is needed, unless the message is initiating collaborative dialog or discussion.
- Rules. Some email software programs allow you to create rules to automatically process incoming messages from regular lists or sources. For the emails that you want to receive, and keep, but don’t necessarily need to read every time, you can have a rule to mark them as read and store them in a folder. Apple offers a very nice video tutorial on the use of email rules.
- Simplify. If you are getting more e-mails in a single day than you can possibly answer in a single day, then that’s an indication that you may have overextended yourself with too many commitments and responsibilities. Consider cutting back on the groups and organizations you are involved with.
- Stopping Spam. Most email service providers and email programs offer spam filtering. Learn about the junk mail filtering system available to you. Some unsolicited emails are sent from legitimate companies offering a genuine opportunity to opt-out of their mailings. When possible, choose to opt-out and unsubscribe from their mailing lists. Other companies are not legitimate (ones you’ve never heard of), for those its best just to mark the message as spam and delete it rather than responding since responding just lets the sender know that your email address is a working address and you’ll get more junk mail.
- Website or Blog. Refer people to articles (like this one) that you’ve written on topics rather than typing messages fresh each time you write someone. Rather than writing lengthy replies to an individual, consider writing them as blog entries or articles. This will produce better quality writing and can be reused.
More. Can you think of more to add to this list? If so, let us know.