I Resolve to Write Better Emails in 2018

Posted on January 9, 2018

I hate email. I hate how much of my day is devoted to email. It makes me less productive. I spend time drafting and re-drafting emails instead of working on big projects and the things I actually get paid to do. And it drives me crazy.
So my work resolution in 2018 is to be better at email. I plan to do this in four specific ways. I’ve come across each of these methods to manage email better over the past few months of my quest to fix my email.

  1. I will not check email first thing in the morning. According to author Julie Morgenstern your most productive and creative hours are in the morning. Better to spend those hours making headway on a project instead of getting mired in something as mundane and soul-killing as email.
  2. I will email like a CEO. Short. To the point. No formalities. No exclamation points (super challenging for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) And I will use my phone to handle responses quickly so I have no excuse for lagging in my reply.
  3. I will follow this oldie but goodie method for inbox management. H/T to fellow ELGLer Russell Terry for sharing this a long time ago on LinkedIn. I saved it and have referred to it’s contents often. I set a reminder in my phone to check my “respond” and “action” folders so I don’t forget anything. Hopefully that becomes a habit soon.
  4. I will leave the office on Friday with #InboxZero.

So how is this all going for me? That weird week between Christmas and New Years I deleted emails like it was my job. I deleted nearly 5,000 emails that were sitting in my inbox. It was delightful. Last week I did pretty good. I didn’t leave the office on Friday with #InboxZero but it was definitely #InboxManageable. I’ll get closer this week. I’ve been better about quickly deleting or archiving emails as they come in.
The most challenging overhaul to my email has been shortening my responses. I would spend too much time analyzing my response to a peer or manager. “Did I sound bitchy?” “Am I coming across too stern?” “Does this sound cutesy?” Writing shorter responses means all of my emails sound stern to me. This is OK because part of that strategy involves not worrying if you come across as rude in an email. Free yourself from the anxiety that is being a woman who emails.
Another great way to be better at email is to use less email in general. Enter Slack. ELGL uses Slack to manage communication among its team of awesome contributors. We’re not 100% on board with Slack at my own office. Maybe that’s my work resolution for 2019…
Do you have methods to keep email from taking over your workday? Share them with me on Twitter. I’ll add your suggestions to this article so other ELGL members can take back their inboxes and get back to work.

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