Ten tips for healthy emailing

Oh dear, there goes that ping again, just as you're shutting down…you take a look, even if it's after work, because who knows... if you don't, it’ll just be there waiting for you. Admit it, even at weekends or on holiday, we often can't resist checking our email.

Letting go is difficult, but completely disconnecting from work is so important. To give our busy minds a rest - and other people's. Especially when we have time off.

We can also learn to create more peace of mind while we’re working. By managing your mailbox and dealing with messages in a different way; by sticking to so-called email etiquette. Here are a few tips:

1. Cherish your free time

The weekend, evenings and the rest of your free time is yours and not your boss'. You can, of course, work when it suits you best (in consultation with your supervisor), but also respect your colleagues’ working hours. Let's give each other that well-deserved downtime.

So, don’t email or message outside office hours. Did you know you can have email messages sent at a later time (e.g., on Monday instead of during the weekend)? This is how you do it. Or you can include a sentence in your email signature to the following effect:  “I might be sending you this email in the evening or on the weekend, but I don't expect an answer or action outside your own working hours."

2. When you are on holiday, you aren’t available

The same applies to your email, be sure your out-of-office is on. Then people can see that you will not read their messages immediately. Include the contact details of a colleague who can be contacted in case of an emergency. If you see an out-of-office when writing an email, postpone sending it.

3. Divide and conquer

Set your filters so incoming emails are pre-sorted. Then they automatically go to a certain folder: advertising, specific topics, etc. In Outlook these filters are called Rules. You can create them by right-clicking on an email in your inbox and choosing Rules.

4. Keep calm and…

Count to ten before using exclamation marks, red flags or pushy expressions like ‘Looking forward to hearing from you.’ If something is really urgent, call more often or send a text or WhatsApp message (see tip #8).

5. Take it easy with the cc

Is it really necessary to inform everyone? Remember that with ccs you are taking up the time of several colleagues, even if only briefly. As ccs are often read with half an eye, don't count on a response from a colleague who is in cc. Think about whether that person really needs to receive the whole email chain or only needs to know the final outcome.

6. What do you really want?

Specify the purpose of your message. Directly in the subject line. Or in the first lines. Be concise.

7. Be crystal clear

It is better to focus on one topic per email in clear language. If you're going to compose long emails, use headings.

8. Call instead of mail

It’s faster and saves typing - and you won't get an email back. It’s also nice to talk to a colleague for a change, now that we see so little of each other. On the phone, you often hear more than via email and you make time for the social aspect of our work.

9. Get smart

Handle all mail, but not immediately. Schedule a suitable time later to reply or go through attachments. Any message that takes more than a minute to read goes to your to-do list. Here's how Bill Gates does that.

10. General tip

Last but not least, don't forget online safety. Don't mindlessly click on all kinds of links, images or attachments; be careful with downloads. We are all responsible for our cyber security.