hate REALLY dislike email.
Not so much for when I email pictures of my son to my Grandma, but email at work is just a massive time-suck. Come to think of it I actually don’t mind email as a platform. I’m upset with the way it’s being used.
If you have a job that requires you to constantly solicit people, follow-up on leads, communicate with those outside of your organization or across vast divides of time and/or space on a regular basis – you get a pass. Everyone communicating internally via email or with pre-established clients/vendors/partners: why are we doing this? More importantly why are we allowing an immediate email reply to become the assumption? Read receipts?! Notifications in the top-right?! I have things to do that are already on my calendar! Use a calendar!
Project management tools have come so far and are amazing at categorizing what should be done and when. Furthermore, one can easily address multiple people around a single topic in real-time using a platform like Wrike or Asana. NO NOT SLACK! That’s worse than email, but I digress…
If one is communicating around the things that should be done in the workplace throughout one’s workday, it’s a reasonable assumption that most (80% anyway) of said activity is related to a deliverable of some kind. Editing an image, banging out some site copy, re-allocating an ad budget, pulling a 30 day report, etc. The incessant back and forth, clarification questions and wildly irresponsible cc’ing that goes on is out-of-hand. Heaven forbid you still use gmail online instead of a desktop client like an adult – the problem can be multiplied several fold.
Use email sparingly and responsibly. Send a few questions at once, reference the project management tool that you use or encourage whomever you’re emailing to get one! If it takes longer than 5 minutes to compose the message – pick up the phone. If it takes less, send a text. Set up a recurring time to touch base and be ready to rock through some spirited discussions and reports or updates when meeting time comes around.
As a sender it’s important to be clear about what you are hoping to get out of the message and when. Again, if it’s urgent – pick up the phone. Conflict avoiders of the world will likely still resort to the written word as it allows for more diplomacy, but for the rest of us the lines of communication should be wide open and squeaky clean. If the reply isn’t urgent but requires some thoughtful analysis or discussion – set up a call. As the recipient let the sender know you did in fact receive the message and would like to set up a call.
My email address, much like my phone, is not a tether – it’s a tool. Plan and manage your life in a way that you could walk away from either your phone or email for a few days and still have plenty to do. If you are the kind of person that is driven each day by the whimsy of the calls, texts or emails you receive you are likely not accomplishing anything meaningful that you’ve forecasted for yourself in the past.