Time Management Skills: Email Tips

Clarity in workplace communication is highly important in any format, and these days, more and more business is conducted through email. Therefore, it’s beneficial to learn how to maximize the content of your email messages, while minimizing the possibility of confusion.

You should start with an informative, keyword-rich subject line that grabs the reader’s attention. Don’t leave the subject line blank, and don’t be vague or non-specific; on the other hand, don’t overuse exclamation points or capital letters. Either might lead an inattentive recipient to think your email is spam, resulting in it getting deleted—something that might range in consequence from minor to disastrous. If you’re replying to an existing email, don’t change the subject line unless you must. Otherwise, the recipient may not realize it’s a reply to their original email, and they might miss or delete it.

Unlike face-to-face or even telephone conversations, with email there’s no tone of voice or body language to help you convey your message. You really do have to say exactly what you mean in order to get your point across. In the body of the email itself, be concise and don’t use vague language. Make sure you have exactly the right word, and use simple terms that are difficult to mistake. Give the email some thought before you even start typing, so you can organize your points and choose your words carefully.

When you do start typing, make your points efficiently and one at a time, wrap it up, and end it. Provide only enough information to communicate the issue, and write in a natural style without being stilted or ceremonial. You can be informal if communicating to someone you work with regularly, but you should avoid using slang, emoticons, or texting abbreviations .

Finally, be sure to conduct an edit and run it through spell-check before you send it; people don’t expect perfection out of email, but they do expect professionalism. Typos can cause confusion, and in some cases they can cause the recipient to take you less seriously than they should; and again, both problems can damage productivity. So get the email as right as you can without falling into the perfectionism trap.



  1. Great post on email and I enjoyed the newsletter this week on clear communication too! Many writers on the “To Be Productive” blog offer more tips on email including this post that has links to email etiquette and other time saving articles: http://2bproductive.blogspot.com/2010/08/should-you-send-clean-business-emails.html . Since you offer productivity tips too, I have added this blog to the blog roll there as well.