It stands always ready, takes seconds to write, requires no effort to deliver, reaches one or thousands nimbly, and yet there’s no guarantee you will ever see it again. Sound great, expect for that last part.
You rely upon a timely return with the information required. Yet, as the world gets busier, this becomes a bigger reliance. Once you hit send, you are on someone else’s time. They too need to get work done, reshuffle priorities regularly, and get too many emails. Why increase this reliance by sending someone a disposable asset?
You have two options, one depend less on email or two invest in improving the return of your asset. -pause to reflect- OK, option two it is.
Are you giving or asking for something?
If you are asking for something, think of the other person. Make the email clear and as concise as possible. If you can’t say what you need in one or two lines, then people are going to need more time to think about it. More time equals a higher chance of a delay or being ignored. If you are giving something away, fantastic! Givers are not so concerned about a reply. Plus, giving increases your email karma. Still, clarity is key!
Do you have a prior relationship with that person?
Family aside, if you didn’t email someone at your work, would he/she ever think about you or miss you? If no, see notes on clear and concise above; else, consider a more direct method of communication. Yes, it is more time consuming, yet relationship building pays riches over time. When someone unknown emails you, do you jump to reply? To stay competitive today, we must produce. Being busy isn’t enough! If you depend on email, your relationships need to be dynamic.
Is there another way?
Maybe the answer to your email query already exists online. Check meeting notes, prior emails, FAQ pages, or even the addressee’s social media. Take action by harvesting data or information where you can and don’t wait for it to come to you already assembled. 21st Century tools, plus human brain, and an ability to act means maybe you could work at Google.
Maybe email really works for you? Yet, ask yourself the following. Are your emails clear and concise? Does email interfere with work you need to do? Do you answer emails as they come in? If you answered yes twice, I suggest you rethink your email usage. Disposable assets don’t really help you get work done!