Want fewer emails?

Here’s a quick tip for reducing the number of emails you get in your inbox every day…

Send fewer emails.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the entire secret rolled into one sentence. For every email you send out, there is a good chance you will receive a reply. If you’ve copied multiple people in your outgoing email, you will probably receive numerous replies.

We live in a world with numerous forms of communication, yet most companies disproportionally rely on email for the majority of their contact throughout the working day. Depending upon the situation, email could be the worst form of communication to use with your coworkers, clients and business partners.

Here are some alternate forms of communication you should consider before firing up your email program: face-to-face meeting, collaboration tools (wiki, BaseCamp, Salesforce.com, Google Docs, etc), instant messaging (AOL, GTalk, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, Skype, etc), social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), phone call, text Message, video conference, video chat, blog, fax and last, but not least a good old fashioned hand-written note.

Here are a few instances when email is NOT the best tool for the job.

1. When you need a simple yes/no answer. Use an instant messenger, text message or Twitter direct message. You’re in and out and nobody loses much time in the process.

2. When multiple colleagues need to edit and/or approve a document. Use collaboration tools like Google Docs, BaseCamp, a wiki, etc. Emailing a Word or Excel document to six of your coworkers to edit is shear insanity. Stop the madness. Seriously.

3. You sent an email to several colleagues and you got a reply from someone who clearly confused. Unless you are absolutely sure one simple email reply will clear up the confusion, pick up the phone and call this person. Chances are, one 10 minute phone call will prevent 3 or 4 more emails.

4. You need to sell something. Whether you’re selling a product to a client or an idea to a supervisor nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.

5. Someone just emailed you the funniest joke along with a hilarious photo of a kittens. I beg of you. If you really need to tell the world just how funny this joke is, post it to your blog. Please, under no circumstances should you forward this joke email to your entire address book.

So tell me, are there any communication tools you use (other than email) throughout the day?

Let me know in the comments.

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3 Responses to Want fewer emails?

  1. Will says:

    To take it a step further, if sending an email is absolutely necessary, making it brief and concise contributes to a less painful email experience for everybody.


  2. Dave says:

    Will – Five Sentences is a great find. I hope it catches on.

  3. Lina says:

    instant messaging… specifically AIM

    and yes… short email messages are ideal

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