If you work in a professional environment, you most likely write emails everyday — to your boss, colleagues, clients. Even if you don’t, you probably need to correspond via email sometime throughout the day.
So, being able to write a professional, business-like email is a crucial skill, especially if you plan on ensuring the emails you send will be effective and not glazed over.
Emails can be both an advantage and an annoyance when it comes to productivity. Although they allow us to instantly connect with countless people, they can also use up a lot of precious energy. Did you know that the average businessperson receives more than 100 emails a day?
Depending on how long it takes for you to read and reply to each of them (or decide which ones you’re ignoring), that can add up to almost half of your work day, as well as lost time and focused concentration.
According to Basex, a research firm focusing on problems of information overload, recovering from a brief interruption can take up to 10 to 20 times longer than the duration of the interruption. Email can help or hinder your daily work.
Fortunately, these four tips will help you manage email overload and write emails that people will actually read.
1. Use the subject line wisely
Never leave the subject line blank. Don’t you often times delete emails that are subject-less? It’s important to use the subject line of an email to capture your reader’s attention. Each email you send should include the Three Ps: purpose, person and point. Make sure you also change the subject line when you change the subject of the correspondence.
Requesting an action? Say so in the subject line. This may be news to you, but most people don’t always read the entire email. When burying your request at the end or lost in the middle of the message, the recipient may never see it.
2. Proofread before sending
Have you ever hit the “send” button only to realize you just made a bad impression? By not carefully proofreading what you’re sending, you may find yourself in trouble. Whether it be errors in grammar, punctuation or spelling, poorly written emails will only diminish the recipient’s respect.
Take your time to proofread every element: the “To” line, subject line, attachments and content. Also, you can choose to utilize the spell-check software, but don’t rely on it exclusively. Important emails should be read aloud when being proofed.
3. Limit email checking and distractions
BBC News reported that workers who get distracted by a phone call or email suffer a fall in IQ twice than that found in frequent marijuana smokers. If you are constantly turning your head from tasks that are priority to check your email, it’s takes a toll on the mind similar to the equivalent of losing a night’s worth of sleep.
The best time to check your email is during break in your work flow. Don’t ever interrupt yourself to check it. Check email on your schedule, not on the schedule of the people who email you at their convenience. You may even want to disable email auto-alert functions.
4. Don’t forget that emails are public documents
The Wall Street Journal always features foolish corporate emails on its front page. Would you want the private details discussed in your emails to go public? We didn’t think so. Make sure that everyone at your workplace understands that if they are unwilling for the contents of an email to be made public, they should not send the email. Company email belongs to the company — don’t peddle in private matters or speak negatively about others. It just may come back to haunt you.