These are three of my favorite ways to cut down on needless email, along with a fourth tip I would like your comments on:
1. Choose to pick up the phone. When you know an email is likely to spawn a series of back-and-forth messages, ask yourself whether a phone call is more efficient. When you want to choose a date, time, and place to meet for lunch, for example, planning by phone for five minutes can achieve your goal. It’s more efficient than exchanging six to ten email interruptions.
2. Send a request or question to only one person–not to an entire group. Otherwise, the entire group may respond, sinking you in unnecessary replies. For example, if you can’t find contact information for a client, write to the person who is most likely to have the information–not the 12 people who might have it.
3. If you manage people, give them as much authority and training as possible, so they don’t email you continually, asking for your approval and guidance. Also, encourage them not to copy you on their email, unless it is essential that you have the information.
4. Have people use polling buttons to communicate their preferences rather than replying to you with their choice. For example, if you were planning the quarterly luncheon, you might have people choose a chicken, beef, or vegetarian pasta entree by clicking their choice.
Have you applied the fourth tip? If so, in which kinds of situations? It was recommended by a participant in an Email Intelligence class, but I haven’t had the opportunity to use it.
If you have additional tips for shrinking the size of a monstrous email inbox, please share them.