Email is a wonderful invention, but can also be the bane of your life if you become a slave to it. Striking a happy balance is difficult, but here are a few practices that might help.

When sending email:

  • Send it only to those who will benefit from your message. Don’t overload recipients with unnecessary information.
  • Write as if you are speaking.
  • Be polite when criticising.
  • Never argue aggressively or use abusive language.
  • Let people know whether you’re expressing opinions or stating facts.
  • Don’t use email as a substitute for face-to-face communication.
  • Get to the point quickly. When possible, keep your message to one screen-length of copy.

If you are receiving email:

  • Set aside two or three periods a day only for answering new email, unless a project is urgent.
  • Respond to and forward messages as soon as possible. Caution: If a message upsets you, take time to gather your thoughts – and then respond logically.
  • Don’t press the send button until you have walked away and left it.
  • Check old messages regularly and delete all unneeded mail.
  • Don’t stop working each time you receive a new message.