The average professional spends 28% of their day reading and answering emails. That's a massive 2.6 hours per day and 120 messages received per day*. I'm sure you've had days where you could add more to that!
It's scary to think about how much time we spend writing and replying to emails versus doing valuable work and speaking with teammates, customers and clients.
I'm not saying email isn't a helpful tool, but it's often overused, and when we're busy and stressed or putting off demanding tasks, jumping into email management is often the easiest thing to do.
This tip isn't about how to manage your inbox or spend less time in it, it's how to receive fewer emails, and it's especially relevant for Project Managers, who, in my slightly biased opinion, are up there with as a role that gets the most.
First, only send an email when you need something if you provide actions that the recipient can pick from. This will take you a little longer to write, but you save time easily with fewer emails and conversations after sending it.
Need a meeting? Share what the meeting is for, then some different days and time slots you or the team can do. The recipient can then reply with the preferred time, and the action is done with only one email received.
Or need a decision? The same approach, either provide them with multiple options for them to pick from or state the decision needed and the info behind it so they can make one without asking more questions/sending emails.
Next is to think about the recipient's situation before sending the email.
So are they busy? Keep it brief and to be the point.
Do they need detail? Attach or write the detail they need. Without it, more questions/emails will come back.
Do they need confidence in what you're doing? Be clear in the required steps and be confident in your tone.
The more you think about and adapt to the recipient's style, need or situation, the more likely you'll reduce the emails back.
Plus, by regularly practising these approaches to receive fewer emails, the appreciation from those on the receiving end goes up, as who doesn't like having to make fewer decisions?
So today, always think about how you can make every email you send no more than two email chain.