We love and hate email in equal proportions. We are condemned to live with it, so learning how to use it well is key to our personal productivity. The truth is we use it a lot, but that doesn’t mean that we use it the right way. Some of these mistakes will certainly sound familiar to you:

  1. Sending an email to the wrong people. Sending an email to someone who doesn’t need to read it is like forcing them to attend a meeting they don’t have to go to. Remember that “To” is the person who must reply and “CC” is only for those who need a copy of the message. Be careful with auto-complete and the “Reply” and “Reply All” options. The aim is to send it to those people who really need to be informed.
  2. Checking email too often. We spend the whole day waiting for some email, even after working hours. Set aside time every day to read and reply to emails and avoid checking your account every five minutes. It is also important to disconnect and stop being devoted to work all day long.
  3. Not being organized. We are constantly reading new emails but we do nothing with them. Once you’ve opened them, it is important to process, label and sort them out in order to spend less time managing them later.
  4. Using your inbox as a task manager. Many of us set our email as a to-do list reminder. But emails keep coming and these tasks get buried by a flood of messages. Email is not a task manager, so use some other application to help you get your work organized. 
  5. Following endless email reply chains. We’ve all been caught in some sort of never-ending mail chain (Re: Re: Re: ) where contacts and information of all kinds get mixed up together. Create a new message for each topic and add the appropriate contacts.
  6. Writing wrong ‘Subjects’. An email is a piece of information. Writing the right subject line helps the recipient to better rank the emails according to their importance and urgency, as well as to easily locate them if ever needed. Make sure that the subject lines are as clear and descriptive as possible.
  7. Not replying quickly. Many times we read emails, put them aside to reply later and then forget them in the inbox. If possible, reply to emails right after reading them. It is also basic to apply filters to show the important ones first.

If you want to keep on improving, here are three solutions to manage email so that you have everything under control and become a true master.

Translation by Susana Castro.

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Imagen: Wayne Stadler

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