Based in part on Send, we are trying to create some social norms around the use of email at our school. Please take a read and let me know if you have any suggestions for revision.
Top Ten Rules for Email
As a Sender
- Email is great for exchanging little pieces of information, but not for lengthy discussions. If you need to discuss something with someone, use email to schedule a time to meet instead of for the discussion itself. If the whole message can be contained in the subject line, you can put EOM to the let the recipient know this is the “end of message.” You can also add NNTR to let them know “there is no need to reply.” OMG, this could save us a lot of time!
- Address your email to as few people as possible.
Put the primary recipient in the “to:” field and judiciously cc others as needed. Putting multiple people as the primary recipient reduces your chances of getting the response you need. CC’ing multiple people adds to the stream that overwhelms our inboxes.
- Only hit the “send” button when you are calm, cool, and collected.
At other times hit the “save draft” button and sleep on it.
- Allow 24 hours before expecting a response.
We want to resist the urge to be always on as it takes away from our being present in other areas of our work and lives. Expecting quick responses encourages an unhealthy attitude about always being available.
- Do not over share.
If you are sending a message to a list of people. Ask yourself if everyone really needs to hear the news you want to share, they probably don’t.
- Do not over rely on email.
Get up and go see people in person when you can.
As a Receiver
- Limit the amount of time you spend reading and responding to email.
Constantly checking and responding to email has been proven to be more detrimental to one’s cognitive ability than heavy marijuana smoking.
- Avoid quickly responding to sensitive or lengthy emails.
Quick back and forth responses tend to create misunderstanding and escalate tension. Messages should be returned within a day in most cases, but being too prompt can create other problems.
- Use google mail rules and group subscription settings to help manage your inbox.
Google has lots of tools to help you manage your email to your liking. If your stomach tightens when you login to your email, it is probably worth spending 10 minutes learning about these tools. Google has created a ninja themed email training program and you can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/nmvsak
- Take an occasional sabbatical from all things electronic.
It doesn’t have to be one out of every seven days, but deliberating turning things off makes us better people.