Like you, I receive my share of email. I have multiple email accounts. It is especially difficult to manage as I travel the globe, working across time zones.
Over the years, I have heard my share of advice about email. I call them “email productivity myths” because they are widely shared in leadership and productivity classes. The problem is that some are not true. Others work for some but not all.
Here are a few:
1. Email is one of the biggest time wasters.
Why: This is one I hear all the time. It seems a given that everyone sees it as a nuisance, as a time waster, as taking too much time.
Why it’s a myth: More often, email is saving time. It allows quick communication with people all over the world. What takes a few minutes to write and to read would have required scheduling a conference call, preparing, and having an unneeded long conversation. How to use email properly is an important skill, but don’t fall into the false belief that all email is a waste of your day.
2. Never reply all because you are filling up everyone’s email box unnecessarily.
Why: Carelessly hitting reply all adds an email to everyone’s inbox.
Why to do it: There are times when replying all is important. You are sending a message where everyone needs to stay in the conversation. The important reminder is to think about where it is going.
3. Don’t respond.
Why: Say you receive an email sent to a few people, and you have an opinion and decide not to respond.
Why you may need to respond: Depending on the culture of your organization, silence may be read to equal agreement. If you have a point of view, you may need to share it either via email or in-person.
4. Use the blind cc: feature to copy people.
Why: You are using the blind carbon copy to let someone know you are handling a situation, but you don’t want the receiver to know.
Why you should rarely, if ever use it: It feels slimy. It’s like you are hearing a one-sided conversation, and don’t get to hear the response. If you receive a blind cc, you have to keep track of what you are supposed to know, and what you aren’t. Worst of all, we have all seen someone who was blind carbon copied respond, embarrassing the sender.