How to write effective emails

By How To


Gone are the days of pinging across an email to someone for fun; now the working day is all about responding to the millions that clog up our inbox. In short, what was supposed to be a help to us has now become a hindrance. Emails have started to take over not just working life, but they sometimes infringe on home life too. However, there is a way to write effective emails that will hopefully stop so many coming through – leaving you with more time to learn how to be more productive. Need to know how to write difficult emails, and to stop the envelopes from constantly popping up on your screen? Then read on….

DON’T feel you have an obligation to reply to everything you receive. The more emails you send, the more you’ll receive as a result.  

DO choose what to respond to and when. Learn to prioritise. Unless something is super urgent, it won’t need immediate attention.  

DON’T spend all day on emails. Instead, look to set aside time to take on “meaningful” work, i.e. the kind that helps you advance your career, or expand your skills set.  

DO write a set of goals you want to achieve for your different sets of work.  

i) Mission-based work – a long-term big dream you hope to achieve, like Jamie Oliver wanting to “increase the health ad well-being of future generations by providing better food and education.” 

ii) Project-based work – when you complete a project, like nailing that interview. 

iii) Skills-based work – when something enhances your skills set, like getting better at negotiating.Clarifying the meaningful work lends a sense of purpose to your day. By doing this, you can then work out the relevance of those emails, in terms what you want to achieve that day.  

DON’T not do anything. If you want to say no to an email, you must say yes to something else. Think about what you want to accomplish and how you can accomplish it.  

DO write down your goals for the next three months. Be realistic and keep the list short – no more than three goals in total. Stick the list somewhere where you can see it on your desk, so you can refer to it regularly to see if those goals are still at the forefront of your mind.  

DON’T ignore everybody. Once you’ve accomplished what you want to achieve at work, it’s now time to focus on those around you. 

i) VIPs – These are the people closest to you whose messages need immediate attention. These include your boss, big-deal clients and your spouse or significant other. 

ii) Key collaborators – The people you work closely with who require responses to keep projects and client relationships moving forward. These include colleagues you work with regularly, smaller clients with active projects on the go, close advisers, friends and family.

iii) Fun people – These are the people who bring laughter and insight into your inbox. Responding to these people isn’t a priority and if you’re busy, they can wait until you get back to them.

iv) Potentials – These are the types of people who could be important or useful in the future, but not quite at present. These include prospective clients, potential employers and new business contacts. 

v) Randoms – People you don’t know who enter your inbox uninvited and unverified and want responses on nothing to do with work. These people have little or no priority at all.

For more information read Unsubscribe: How to kill email anxiety, avoid distractions and get real work done (£9.99, Piatkus) by Jocelyn K. Glei