How to help your colleagues to reduce your e-mail load?

Change starts with people setting an example! If you feel strongly about helping your organisation to reduce the amount of e-mails, then what are you going to do about it?

Unfortunately it depends on the situation. I have a number of suggestions for different types of e-mail that you receive:

  • Requests for a piece of information, for example a project plan that someone would like to reuse, how to do something or the response to an RFI for a particular type of request.
    If not done already, take the time to place this kind of information on your intranet, your wiki or knowledge portal so people can find these themselves. Of course you should notify the person that sent you this request the link to the information preferably directly from the source.
  • Your opinion regarding a particular topic. You have 2 options.
    For a one to one conversation: Start an Instant Message converstion with the person or just call the person to prevent e-mails being sent back and forth. It is often quicker and more effective this way.
    If multiple people need to be involved: Start a threaded discussion online that prevents a reply to all chain of e-mails
  • Someone sends you information that they feel you should know and possibly already have received before
    Do not react to the e-mail as you do not want to encourage this type of behavior.
  • You need to confirm or approve something
    Just answer the person but only CC people that really need to know.
  • Someone that just want to have a chat about something random
    Don’t respond unless you have nothing better to do…

The other thing you have full control over is to think before starting typing an e-mail and consider the different communication and collaboration means at your disposal that may be appropriate to serve your needs. This blog post provides some excellent tips on writing e-mails

Do you have suggestions that work for you to help your colleagues, yourself and the rest of the world spent a little less time on e-mail? Please comment on this post.

Note: Obviously if you don’t have any alternative tools then you are in trouble unless you find a sponsor to implement them.