Email now apparently takes more than 2 hours of a typical person’s job, in any given day, a figure which I figure is likely exceeded for a typical attorney. With that kind of time invested in it, you’d think we’ve collectively gotten better, over time, at handling it -not so, if you ask me.
I happened this morning on a post entitled 40 One-Sentence Email Tips which inspired me to distill my own experience (of 20 years reading/writing emails), for your benefit and my own. Here it is, in the hope it may help us be more productive:
- Send less emails, receive less emails;
- Limit your consents to receiving mass emails (like newsletters);
- Use your email app intelligently – don’t spend time manually saving emails into folders, etc.;
- Don’t generally answer emails instantly or at all times of the day or night, or risk involuntarily training recipients of your emails to expect that level of responsiveness;
- For any new email, start by asking yourself whether this communication channel is appropriate for this particular discussion (would a text or a call be better?);
- If email is the way to go, don’t C.C. any person that doesn’t really need to see that email (as you’ll be wasting their precious time with your thoughtless inclusion of their address);
- Give your email a Subject that does describe adequately what it’s about (dhu);
- Start your emails with a sentence or two that provides context and what specifically you hope to get back from this recipient (information, action, etc.);
- In the body of your email, be brief and concise: keep sentences and paragraphs short, and limit the length of your email to about a page -max;
- Be kind to recipients of your emails and use plenty of spaces and bullet points, to make scanning your message easy and quick (typically, that person will want to spend about 30 seconds reading it).
We’re collectively spending A LOT of time on electronic communications, which doesn’t mean the average person (or lawyer, for that matter) knows how to handle it adequately. Remember, your email app should work for you, not the other way around.