The sense and non-sense of a No Email Day


Would you support a No Email Day initiative at work? Are you working already email efficient? Let’s exchange some tips!

Email 10 years agoIn our organisation we launched a No Email Day. For one day we encouraged our colleagues to try sending no emails at all the whole day. As always there are supporters and opponents of the initiative. While in the early days we were looking forward to receiving emails, this now has turned around to looking forward not to receive too many.

Is a business day without emails even possible? Email can be an effective medium to get your message across. With the use of common sense, the amount of emails can be limited.

On the other hand, we see a lot of emails send out to many people in CC. These CC recipients many cases just classify the mails. All the initiatives like mailbox reordering, training for effective email management, inbox prioritization, automatic email rules, To and CC indicators, etc. point in the direction that we are sending (and thus also receiving) too many emails.

The goal of the “No email day” is creating awareness. We create awareness for the extremes to get people thinking about their usage. Does that mean that we need to get rid off all emails and it’s according systems?

No. But we want to move from a coordinator who sends out 30 assignments by mail (and looses track of the follow-up) to one that picks up the phone and calls with the humans behind the email addresses. We want to move from emails with 15 people in CC to email with only the ones in CC that count. We want to move from emails with “urgent” in the topic to picking up the phone and calling the other party.

If you are already doing that, you are ahead of schedule and earn a pad on the back!

If not, here are some tips I would like to share with you.

Email reduction

  1. Don’t send urgent emails, but pick up the phone and call.
  2. Remove unnecessary people in CC.
  3. Use a “private reply” instead of “reply to all”. Especially when you need to provide personal input.
  4. Thank people in person instead of by email.
  5. If you get emails that you don’t want (eg. commercial), immediately unsubscribe from the service. Don’t waste another second of your life with deleting following emails.
  6. Avoid redundant confirmation mails, like “OK” and “thank you”, with everyone in CC.

Email etiquette

  1. Start your email with a greeting. “Hello John, ” vs “John, ” gives you a head start.
  2. If you are angry, save your email as Draft before you send it and go grab a coffee. When you’re back, take a second look at the email.
  3. Do not use BCC, but be honest and open in your communication.
  4. Respond to emails addressed to you. Even if you do not have the time to respond, let them know.
  5. Email is not probably the best medium to use to spread your message …
    1. … if you are in doubt of how your message will come across after sending.
    2. … if you worry that people might forward your email.
    3. … if you wonder if everybody can commit to what you ask in your email.

Email management

  1. Keep your inbox empty and use an email triage.
    1. Create a “first priority”, a “waiting for”, a “someday maybe”, and an “archive” folder.
    2. Quickly scan all incoming mails. If you can handle it in 5 minutes, dispatch and archive it.
    3. Move emails that need more work to your triage folders.
    4. Put emails that need work in the “first priority” folder. Every time you plan email process time (see tip below), scan your “first priority” folder and do the most urgent ones.
    5. Put emails with questions you send out in the “waiting for” folder. This way you don’t lose track and you can get it out of your head. “I need to follow-up on something, but what was it again…?”
    6. Put emails you want to keep in (a subfolder of) your archive.
    7. Put all other (and less important) incoming mails in the “someday maybe” folder.
    8. Plan a fixed moment every week (eg. on Friday) where you go through your “to read” and “waiting for” folder.
  2. Who is controlling your day? Your email client or you? Only check your email a few times a day.
  3. Disable disturbing email notifications to work with more focus.
  4. Help the people who will receive the email you send out. Use following prefixes to indicate what you need: info, question, todo, review, …

Please share more tips with the rest of the readers!

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One thought on “The sense and non-sense of a No Email Day

  1. […] je taken die je al een week doorschuift, dan zijn deze niet kritiek. Zet ze op een lijstje “ooit / misschien” en stop met ze uit te […]

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