A recent article in the Daily Telegraph “Internet ‘fuels procrastination and lowers productivity‘” started me thinking about my own experiences (I’ve been developing and using internet technology in business for over 30 years), so I thought I would post my guidelines for using email.
Some of these in the list below are relevant to productivity some are just good practice. Many of these guidelines also apply to social media.
- Turn of all audible notifications for new messages.
- Set aside specific times of the day for checking your devices for new messages and answering them. Very few messages are so urgent that the sender can’t wait a couple of hours for a response.
- If an email requires more than that 2 minutes to be dealt with, park it on your to do list and send a quick acknowledgement saying that you’ll get back shortly.
- If an email is informative and you need to keep it as reference, file it away in a folder where you can retrieve it later. Don’t leave it in your inbox.
- For emails that you don’t need to keep, delete them. The same goes for spam that has made it through your spam filter.
- If you receive an email that angers you, never reply immediately. If you do you will almost certainly regret it later. Wait a couple of hours when you’ve calmed down a little and are in a position to give a more measured and constructive response.
- Assume that every email you send could, and sometimes will, be sent to people you wouldn’t want it to be seen by. Many a government minister or civil servant has come to grief over this one!
- Email is an informal medium so don’t feel that you need to start every email with a formal salutation (Dear Mr Other). A simple ‘Hi John’ or simply ‘John’ will suffice.
- Similarly there is no need to finish emails with ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Yours faithfully’. Use something informal such as ‘Kind regard’, ‘Regards’, or simply ‘Thanks’.
- By all means use an email signature but keep it relatively small. I’ve see some companies using signatures that extend to half an A4 sheet. This is ridiculous. Similarly don’t add complex graphics in your signature. They waste storage space and bandwidth.
What are your thoughts or experiences on this? I’d love to hear from you.