Leadership

How not to stink at email

If you’re like most ministry peeps, your email in-box overflows.  Internal emails, requests, complaints, ideas… just about everything you can imagine hits your email at all hours of the day and night. Tim Sanders has some tips to help you ‘not stink’ at email.  I think they’re helpful: 1.  Kill your inbox every Friday.

Letting your Inbox get full of once-read but not-answered emails stresses you out.  It also sends a signal to your bizmates that you don’t have your act together OR you are way over committed.
2.  Review BEFORE you click send.
 In most email situations, we write, send, then review.  That’s the ready-fire-aim approach to communications.  Take a few seconds to read what you just wrote, and do so from the reader POV.  Remember, this is work and you are trying to get stuff done.  If you are mad, then really reread what you are writing.  Consider picking up the phone instead, so you can convey your intentions instead of raw emotions.
3.  Craft effective subject lines.
What if the New York Times sucked at writing headlines for their stories? What if their headlines read, “RE: The Economy”?  Today, to be effective at email, we need to use subject lines like publishers use headlines.  Most of your email recipients are on-the-go, so your subject line is your advertisement for their attention.  If you are requesting some specific action, say it in the subject line.
4.  Don’t reply to all unless you have to.
More email from you equals more reason to ignore you in our high noise to signal life.  In the study I did on email usage for EmailAtoZ, only 12% of reply to all occurances were necessary.
5.  Write email during your professional hours.
Sipping and sending can be as dangerous as drinking and dialing/driving.  When you write all your emails on a plane, at 10pm with five glasses of red wine in you (Todd’s note:  hopefully this isn’t you!), you suck at email.  When you setup your laptop on a coffee table on a Sunday, and plow through 100 emails while watching the game, your notes don’t make much sense and you likely display a tone of resentment.
How do YOU handle email? What are your tricks to keeping up with the deluge of email? Todd