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Improve Your Email Communication to Increase Productivity

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Our last blog post discussed the nuts and bolts of productive email management.  In this post, we’re covering email sender behavior. Email communication can be a quick and concise way to share information, communicate instructions, provide an update, announce news, etc.    When managed and executed properly, emailing enhances productivity. As with any tool, misuse and misapplication can render undesirable or truncated outputs. As the sender you have a direct impact on the effectiveness of email communication. There are several emailing techniques you can use to improve your communications.

The Productive Use of Email

Before sending an email, consider the subject’s suitability to the platform. For example, we lose a degree of emotion when we use the written word. Sensitive and in-depth topics are best handled face-to-face, or at least via a phone call. In these cases, an email might only be effective to introduce a topic or vet out interest or need for a future group gathering on a given subject. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some communication simply falls short of the need to populate the digital inbox. Want to go to lunch? That’s a text or chat. Did you tell me you’d be running late this morning? That’s likely better suited to a phone call or text.

Texts and chat messaging can, in fact, be productive corollaries for emailed communication. For example, you might text a colleague to let them know you’ve sent a high-interest email you anticipate they’d wish to review or monitor. Or, you might call the sender to get clarity on content contained in an email. Keep in mind the pitfalls of dual platform conversations. Where possible and appropriate, keep the conversation on the original platform. It is frustrating and time-killing to have to hunt down threads across multiple platforms.

Email Abuse is a Productivity Thief

The overuse of email is a real productivity killer. If you anticipate back and forth, pick up the phone or schedule a meeting. Similarly, sending back a reply of “thanks” isn’t really a gracious move. This is especially the case if it’s a “reply all” response of thanks. You won’t be winning points with the group. If you feel the true need to thank the sender, reply just to the sender and make it worth both of your’s time, i.e. “I know that took time away from your current project and I appreciate you sending the summary to the team to get them up to speed. In this case, you validated the person specifically. You didn’t just blanket gratitude.

The Conscientious Email Subject Line

When you begin an email communication, take some time to consider the appropriate words to include in the subject line. This will support the recipient in their processing of the communication. In essence, the subject line formulates the mindset the reader will have as they consume the contents of the email. Additionally, a clear subject line will support the recipient’s efforts down the road, should they need to locate the email in the future.

Sometimes an email will trigger a long stream of dialogue. This may certainly be desired and productive. But if you find your original email string has morphed to another topic, change the subject line or start a new chain. This supports the aforementioned process of locating a topic or discussion in the future. 

Email Timing Considerations

Back in the dark ages, when business communication was delivered via snail mail, timing considerations were different. It was basically, the sooner you got a stamp on the envelope, the better. In the age of digital communication, most users have access to emailed communication around the clock. Indeed, an important component of productive time management includes blocking off specific times to process email. But as the sender of email communication, you shouldn’t assume the recipient of your emailed communication practices healthy email processing. For some, an alert to an email triggers them to immediately read the email. And they may feel inclined to act on the email immediately. For subordinates, sending an email outside of working hours could send a conflicting message surrounding your intention to respect their personal time. If you’re eager to get something out and it is over the weekend or after hours, consider using a delayed deployment feature to ensure delivery occurs during normal business hours.

Consider your Audience

Related, beyond the work/life balance, giving consideration to the time of day (and even day of the week) you deploy your email could yield greater outcomes. For example, if you send email communication on a Friday afternoon, chances are the recipient will have little time to act on the communication. They’ll most likely return to the email on Monday morning. So instead, consider scheduling the email to arrive Monday morning, when the recipient is starting their endeavors for the week. Basically, what we’re talking about here is the need to consider your audience.

Keep an Up-To-Date Address Book

Finally, keep your email address book up to date. Acknowledged email addresses are far less likely to inadvertently land in the spam folder. What’s more, adding recipients to your address book enables you to quickly find an email address in the future when you begin a new email communication.

Gain Optimal Email Results

Email can be an excellent tool for both personal and professional communication. Functioning as a productive and conscientious email user will support the  content in your emails. Practice restraint with the platform to keep dialogue concise and organized. Frame up your subject adequately. Give nod to the timing of your email. With these tactics, you’ll avoid common pitfalls and reap the full benefits of email communication.

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Sara Genrich & Nancy Kruschke, founders of Productivity Training Academy, came together with the vision of creating practical, results-driven online on-demand courses for time management, productivity and technology training.  With over 50 years of combined productivity experience, Sara and Nancy’s knowledge, skills and talents illuminate valuable paths to business gain, serving as an effective catalyst for positive change.

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