How to Deal With Email Conversations Effectively

Emails Are Continuing to Grow

According to Campaign Monitor, each business person receives 121 emails per day. That’s 847 emails per week, 3,630 per month, 44,165 emails per year and 1.8m emails in a lifetime of 40 years at work. Furthermore, it’s growing at 3% per year. According to CNN Money, the average worker spends 28% of their day working on emails. In essence, email conversations, or email threads as they are sometimes referred to, are only going to take more and more of your skill to manage. Moreover, if you want to achieve more, spending time on an activity that accounts for over 1/4 of your day, is well worth the time invested.

Spotting an Email Thread

An email conversation is an email that has been replied to more than twice. For example 1. Mike sends an email to John, 2. John replies to Mike, and then 3. Mike replies to John. An email conversation has happened and is in progress. Then, bear in mind that most emails are sent to more than one person.

Smart child in casual clothes with laptop on table have fun with magnifying glass
Try to spot email conversations before they start – to prevent the thread from getting out of hand.

The opportunity for email conversations to start is high. Furthermore, as you know, email conversations can feel never-ending and a ‘drain on your very soul!’

Stopping Email Conversations

Stopping email conversations before they start is the best way of managing emails more effectively. This will help reduce the time you spend in your inbox.

Being clear about what you want in your original email is the first step towards stopping email conversations before they start. This is because many email conversations begin in the pursuit of clarity. Typically, they will be seeking to understand exactly what it is that you wanted in your original email.

Whilst you may feel that you are saving valuable minutes by getting that job done, taking a little time to consider what the receiver may need to know about this task or question is essential. My top tip is to draft the email. Then, come back to the email before the end of the day. I guarantee you’ll add one or two points to the email. That may just be the difference between an email answered and concluded, verses an email conversation that ensues for days.

Responding to Email Conversations Effectively

As you’ll know from the numerous email conversations that you have been involved, in it can be difficult to read through a very lengthy email. You’ll likely scroll through email header after email header, email footer, after email footer, disclaimer after disclaimer, knowing that to get to the important reply, which might only be a sentence long, has meant you wading through 80% of repetitive drivel.

Freelancer Working On Laptop At Desk In Home Office
Consider the technique you use to respond to email conversations.

A useful way to deal with an email thread is to insert a blank row using ‘return’ after a key piece of information or question from the original email creator and enter ‘ ’. Then insert another blank row, using ‘return’ and enter ‘ ’, and so on.

For example, inserted into their email at the appropriate point. ‘DAS 17-02-21: I agree with your thoughts and we should increase the costs by +2.4%’. The advantage of using this system is that all members of the email conversation can find the entire conversation on one view of their screen, without having to scroll. You know who has said what and when. Moreover, using a different colour for your reply can also be useful. Just remember that you may eventually run out of colours, plus 1 in 12 men are colour blind.

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