Perhaps the largest time suck in the world of emails is responding to emails to get more information.
This is unfortunately because most people’s emails stink. We save all of us time and energy, and focus our own minds too, when we write smart emails. Poor emails are rude – they are forcing others to make your badmin their admin. SMART emails are:
- Specific. They make a specific request or provide specific reference information. They are also brief and to the point, without wonderings and meanderings. No mind farts, which is when you’re only thinking for the first time while you’re typing. If the email is your thinking space, then you must re-read it to ensure it is short and to the point. Aim for no more than 5 lines.
- Measurable. They use numbered points so that each point can be responded to if further information is required, the same points providing a way to measure the set task or reference.
- Actionable. They highlight what is expected of the reader with this email. If a response is expected, it is made clear with: who needs to do it, what they need to do, and by when with a due date. If it is for reference, this is made clear and for what reference it shall be needed.
- Readable. They use double spaced paragraphs because the eye needs whitespace, use bold to highlight main points, use numbered points, use plain fonts in black to make them universal, use correct English – not text language – to save people having to be ghetto to understand what they are saying (this is plain politeness), use a different email for each subject and use the subject as a subject, not the actual body of the email.
- Time-aware of others’ time. They only respond to the people who need a response, respond to every email that is received to confirm receipt so that people aren’t waiting to hear back from you while you mull it over, make decisions where decisions need to be made rather than long chain emails, and follow the rule of three – only three emails on a topic or it gets deferred to a phone call or meeting.
Make it your policy that if your email will be going into someone else’s inbox, that they aren’t demotivated when they receive email because it’s lame, but are please to receive it from you because they know that you write SMART emails that give them all they need. Keep people happy by writing SMART emails.
Your Leading Thoughts
As you know I love a good framework – so perhaps I’ve missed a vital point by trying to be too smart. What points would you add?