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4 Ways Email Can Actually Save You Time

What did the 90s give us? The Spice Girls, text messages, the PlayStation…and…email!

Although widely seen as an incredible technological innovation and business ‘enabler’, I’m sure we all have our own views on how email helps, or indeed, doesn’t help us every day of our working lives. It can be one of the working day’s biggest black holes for time loss and has been widely cited as a contributor to employee overconnectivity. Often taking far longer than picking up the phone and communicating the same message, email management in itself is a hot topic in driving better workplace productivity.

Let’s have a look at how it CAN help you to save time:

Use it to document meeting actions

In a meeting, set up your email and type in actions agreed. An excellent way of recording notes which you can then access at a click of a search button and store in folders linking to the corporate cloud, don’t do it twice by typing out a document first, and then an email. Just tidy up your email and send to your fellow cohorts.

Use your subject line to communicate the type and urgency of response required

Use your subject line to flag the action required, for example, ‘RESPONSE’, ‘REQUEST’ or “APPROVAL’, or any other sort of key action, and a deadline for action “REQUIRED BY 5PM TODAY”. By doing this, even if the reader clicks in and out of the email, the presence of the subject line in one’s inbox demands action. It also serves the purpose of clarifying the purpose of the email straight away, and allows people who have allocated set time slots to action emails to work it within their existing work plan.

Keep it short and to the point

There’s a tendency to do a lot of small talk in an email. There’s also a tendency to use casual language, which sometimes lacks clarity and often skirts around the point. Ever noticed when your CEO sends an email to you looking for your opinion on a subject, he or she does not say, ‘It would be great if you could send me an email with your opinion on this.”, they will likely say something much more to the point, like “Thoughts?”. Likewise, try to keep your email to one window pane. Basic rule of thumb: if you have to scroll, it’s probably too long.

Know when email is not the right medium

Unfortunately, even if communicated precisely, messages can be misconstrued via email. Actions, or requests for information, may be straight forward, but don’t be tempted to use email as a crutch for conversations that should be held at best face to face, or at least over the phone. For example, negative feedback may come across as being far harsher over email than face to face, and does not give the person face time to respond, or present their side of the story. Likewise, you may spend hours agonising over a correctly worded email when the conversation could have been held in 20 minutes.

The message is, use email for its purpose. The clue is in the title – it’s ‘mail’ not ‘chat’ – so don’t waste time using it for something it’s not meant to be. Yes, it is a way of contacting people but don’t think of it as a replacement for phone or face to face contact. If you need an immediate answer, don’t use email, you’ll likely be creating stress for both yourself and the receiver.

Use it as a way of sharing information virtually, globally and with real time access.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to hello@barden.ie and we will take it from there!