How to Deal With the Email Monster

Defeating the Email Monster

‘I got one of those emu’s’. The year was 1993. I was a cheese buyer at Sainsbury’s, and the words were uttered by the old cheese grader. Clive was always on the road visiting creameries, and he came into the office on Fridays to see how we all were. RIP Clive.

27 years later, 320 billion of the things are sent every day. Were you ever shown how to use these things that we spend 80% of our time doing? Nope. Nor me. But then again, it’s pretty simple, isn’t it?

Emails Causing Stress

If you created a Boston matrix with two-axis; what I do most at work and what stresses me most. You’d probably put meetings and emails in the top left box. The box called, ‘Things we do a lot, but they don’t half cause me a lot of stress’.

Businessman sitting at desk looking stressed with hands on head

Starving the email monster is one of the first steps to avoiding email stress

Here at the MBM lab, we have spent hours pouring over research, and analysing emails, to find what gets our email goat. Or, rather, your email goat. And how you can move this well-used office tool towards the top right box of ‘Things we do a lot and they actually help without causing huge stress’.

To begin, we need to stop feeding the email monster. Yes, we cover our posteriors by adding people to the ‘to’ or ‘cc. The ‘but’ is that every person that receives your email is a person that can reply. And maybe they will use ‘reply all’. Arggghh!

Starve the Email Monster

This is one way to starve the monster – Use the ‘to’ for anyone that heeds to action something. T = action. For cc ‘force yourself to use this trick. When you write an email say why you are copying people in. For example, ‘Copying you in to share the good news’. If you cannot write why don’t copy them in. cc = information.

Dog sat on floor looking at table full of food above him

Copying in only those that are absolute essential to the email, will help to reduce the number of people that can reply

Back to cheese. Do you know what was the most popular subject heading in our department? ‘Cheese’! Make the subject heading count. The average person receives over 100 emails per day. Use the subject heading like a newspaper headline. Not, ‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster’. Though a good headline, we are at work, Sir. More like, ‘Pack size-reduction XYZ product – Reply by this Thursday at 5 pm please’. Plus, the headline is 65 characters – about 11 words – The optimal length to be read on a mobile phone.

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