Management Information

Spotlight on Productivity: How to Overcome E-Mail Overload

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by e-mail? Have you ever spent more of your day wading through your e-mail than managing your work? Are you looking for ways to spend less time creating, managing and answering messages? Discover how to overcome e-mail overload and be more productive by writing more effective e-mail messages and reducing the volume of e-mail.

Write Effective E-Mail Messages

Start improving your e-mail effectiveness by creating and formatting easy to follow content, and by using pre-written responses.

Create Clear Content

Consider these strategies to upgrade your communications with understandable, e-mail messages:

? Help others prioritize how to act on your e-mail by including a clear, specific subject line and repeating important subject information in the body of the message.

? Define your expectations in the body of the message. Do you want your recipients to act, respond, read, or is the e-mail FYI only?

? Include only one topic per message. If that isn't possible, then describe and number multiple topics as in 5 items to add to the Wednesday meeting agenda.

? When you type the addresses for your message, check who is getting your e-mail. Many programs attempt to auto-fill an e-mail address which may not be your intended recipient.

? Be careful with your tone and language. As with any other communication, match the message to your audience. Unless the reader understands your dry sense of humor, for instance, they may be confused or offended rather than amused.

? It may be tempting to use acronyms in the world of the Blackberry and IM (instant messaging), but only use extremely common abbreviations, such as FYI or ASAP, unless you are absolutely certain that the individual receiving your e-mail knows what they mean.

? Clearly identify yourself to strangers within your message and in the message signature.

Format Readable E-Mail Messages

Simplify the e-mail messages you send with clean, easy-to-read formatting:

? Get to the point. Shorten paragraphs to no more than five or six lines to reduce reading.

? Limit e-mail text to a single printed page. If you have more text, reduce the message or consider attaching a Word document. Delete previous responses that are no longer relevant to the current exchange.

? Use fonts between 10 and 12 points in size except for headlines and choose a font style that is easy to read. Apply colors sparingly.

? Add blank lines and white space to separate paragraphs and areas of detail.

? Run the spelling checker and re-read messages one last time for clarity and grammar before clicking Send.

Use Prewritten Responses

If you send a few basic messages over and over again, such as a reply to a request for product information, consider saving those responses as signatures that can be inserted into e-mail so that you don't have to retype them. For a majority of messages, create a default signature that includes your full name, position or title, phone, website, and other contact information.

Reduce the Volume of E-Mail

Some of the top ways to cut the amount of e-mail you receive is to manage the number of messages that you send, reduce unnecessary follow-up replies, and determine when person-to-person communication is a better choice. Decrease the Number of Messages You Send Before you write your next e-mail, seek to actively reduce how much e-mail you send:

? Read all replies on a topic before responding to the original message. Resist getting involved with e-mail threads that don't impact your objectives.

? Don't send, and discourage your staff from sending, "chime-in" messages that are simply unimportant responses such as "Thank you" and "You're welcome." Don't respond to junk mail.

? Avoid Reply to All unless all recipients need to see your response. Otherwise you are contributing to their e-mail litter.

? Use the Cc (carbon copy) line only when the topic impacts the recipient's work. Although it may seem easier to send a message to everyone in a department or your organization, first ask yourself, "Who needs to know? Why?" Most people who get a carbon copy assume there is something they are supposed to do.

? Use Bcc (blind carbon copy) to hide large distribution lists or to disguise the names of select recipients. All recipients can respond to a message but replies will not be received by anyone in the Bcc list which reduces the amount of e-mail they get.

Eliminate the Clutter in Your E-Mail

In addition to initiating fewer e-mail messages, look at other ways to reduce the messages in your Inbox:

? Publish frequently requested information on your company website and make sure that the website is quickly updated when changes occur.

? When you are sending out informational messages that do not require feedback, discourage unnecessary responses by using formal language and begin and end messages with No Reply Needed or FYI Only.

? Unsubscribe to electronic newsletters that you don't read and move others out of your Inbox to folders for reading during travel or other down times. Don't unsubscribe to mailings that you never initiated or you may further open the flow of junk mail.

? If it's an available option, setup an out of office message that responds to incoming messages when you are not available to answer your e-mail. Clearly state your response time, when you will return, and who can be contacted during your absence.

Choose Voice Instead of E-Mail

There are often times when phone or face-to-face conversations are a superior choice to e-mail. Pick up the phone or arrange a meeting when:

? Building rapport is critical.

? The topic is emotionally charged.

? There are many intertwined issues to resolve or there is a need for lengthy interactive discussions.

Implementing these strategies for overcoming e-mail overload can help you become more productive and free you from your Inbox.

© 2005 by Dawn Bjork Buzbee

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro? and a certified Microsoft Office Expert and Microsoft Office Specialist Master Instructor. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software and technology through her work as a speaker, trainer, and consultant. Visit for great Microsoft Office software tips and tricks or to contact Dawn.

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at


It's Time To Up Your Management Game For The Gig Economy
In particular, it will change the manager's role: Rather than consistent teams of full-time employees, the gig economy will require managers to oversee a much more diverse and shifting talent pool. But according to a survey from Deloitte, only 16% of ...


How A 31-Year-Old Managing Director Quadrupled Her Salary in 9 Years
In our series My Salary Story, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It's an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job ...

Brookings Institution (blog)

Supporting start-ups with better management practices
Brookings Institution (blog)
As many employees or customers can attest, not every business is managed well. Recent research suggests that certain management practices make it more likely a business can thrive, but analysis of new survey data suggests many small firms do not follow ...


Jay Duplass Inks With Odenkirk-Provissiero For Management
EXCLUSIVE: Jay Duplass has signed with management company Odenkirk-Provissiero Entertainment to rep him for acting. Related · Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment Hires Eva Dickerman As Literary Manager. Duplass, along with brother Mark prolific on ...


Can AI Give Better Advice Than Management Consultants?
The first management consulting firm was formed in 1886 by Arthur D. Little, with the intent of providing technical research and “management engineering” to companies. Soon after, in 1926, McKinsey & Company was founded. Since then, McKinsey, along ...

Tracking David Abrams' Abrams Capital Management Portfolio - Q2 2018 Update
Seeking Alpha
David Abrams' 13F portfolio value increased this quarter from $3.19B to $3.60B. The number of positions increased from 20 to 22. Abrams Capital Management added Express Scripts, Alphabet, and Lithia Motors during the quarter. The top three positions ...


The Best Project Management Apps to Get Your Life in Order
Project management apps help teams collaborate more effectively and hit their deadlines, but you can use the same apps to put some order into your life. Here are the management tools worth checking out, whether you've only got yourself to look after or ...


Oracle updates transportation, trade management clouds
Oracle on Tuesday released a series of updates to its Transportation Management and Global Trade Management clouds. The updates aim to help companies streamline and simplify compliance with shifting global trade regulations, as well as speed up ...

and more »

New York Times

'Better Call Saul' Season 4, Episode 2: Gus Fring Is a Management ...
New York Times
Fring is best known as a master seller of both drugs and fried chicken, but this week's episode showed he's just as good at managing and manipulating people.
Bob Odenkirk – TV InsiderTV Insider
Michael Mando – TV InsiderTV Insider
Rhea Seehorn – TV InsiderTV Insider
TV Insider
all 58 news articles »


Yes, Rick Scott did cut $700 million from Florida's water management districts
Did Florida Gov. Rick Scott slash funding for the state's water management oversight? That's what a recent tweet by the Florida Democratic Party claimed. "Rolled back safeguards and septic-tank inspections. Cut $700 million from water management.

and more »

Google News

home | site map
© 2007