The scourge of Death by Email overload

Email overload is becoming an obstacle to productivity

Do you remember when getting mail on your computer was an exciting thing?

Unfortunately due to email overload the excitement has worn off. Our inboxes have become overloaded with clutter, and it is becoming extremely hard to find the meaning amongst the clutter. Too often emails are unstructured and have too much information with not enough substance.  An email is ineffective if the recipient has to search for relevant information and meaning.

Email overload reduces effectiveness and productivity.

 If, like me, you receive dozens of emails each day you are likely to increasingly ignore any mail that requires work to discover its point.

1. Consider one Point per mail.

If you need to communicate with someone about a number of separate issues, try writing a separate email for each subject. This may mean more emails but reduces confusion and helps create clarity. The recipient can then reply to each mail individually, and in the appropriate time frame. One message may only require a short reply, while another may require more research or the recipient to take action. With separate messages, you can get clearer answers, while helping other people manage their inboxes better.

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2. Break the ideas down into a separate paragraphs with clear headings.

Create a bullet point introduction with what the mail contains and a clear call to action. This creates a clear understanding of what is required. Chunking the information into segments can reduce email overload and make ideas easier to follow. If the mail is sent to a group in the bullet action points at the top we can clarify who needs to do what. NB: Make the desired action clear in the first paragraph – don’t bury the call to action near the bottom of the email.

To avoid email overload:

  • Create a clear heading (what is the email about?)
  • Have a clear call to action (what do you want done with the information?)
  • Bullet point the content (what does the email contain?)
  • Add detail to explain the process or context (Heading, information, action)
  • Close with clear (clickable) contact details (no images of contact details)

Email overload leads to missed information, unclear communication and frustration.

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Richard Riche

Engagement and communication specialist at One Clear Message
Richard specialises in helping you build real human communication skills.TED style speaking and presentation skills, Emotional Intelligence skills, Employee Engagement/Experience, building high performance teams and a great place you want to work. One Clear Message offers training, consulting and coaching.
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