Making Email Work for You

By Adam Scott Posted September 10, 2023
Some have called email “the original social network”. Some love it, some dread it, but many are re-discovering email as a uniquely private, simple, text-based way to communicate with only a few select individuals. Receivers, and not 1,000 friends, see what you want them to see.
Some argue that email could make a bit of a hipster renaissance as a communication form, much as retro-tech like Zunes and CD Walkman players are making a comeback. Either way, email is likely here to stay. So what are the best ways to use email for business and personal use? How can you make email work for you?
Unsubscribe From Distractions
It’s easy to get a plethora of newsletters, pleas for donations, and marketing offers in your work email. The simplest fix for this is a simple click on the usually tiny, gray-colored “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email.
I tried this for my inbox and was pleasantly surprised to see spam reduced to exactly 0%, and my inbox is now filled with minimal, useful messages that needed my attention. Keeping your work email free from clutter helps you to notice and respond to important messages faster, and allows you to be less overwhelmed by 298 unread messages when getting back from a vacation.
Use the "React" Buttons Instead of Replies
Some email clients allow you to “react” to messages with a thumbs up, “lol”, exclamation marks, or question marks, very much as you would react to social media posts with emoji reactions.
Using this feature, if provided, can allow everyone in a work email to react without having to send back an entire email that simply reads “Got it, thanks!” followed by a lengthy signature. These handy little reaction options can help to keep one’s inbox clutter-free and allow you to see that everyone has received, understood, and processed your email.
It’s efficient and adds a fun, social-media-like flair to an otherwise simple format. Another way to keep email engaging and helpful is to balance out professionalism and self-expression
Keep Email Fun, Yet Professional
Email doesn’t have to be boring, but it should be professional. Make sure that all attachments (especially images) are work-appropriate, and are not compromising co-workers’ privacy. Make sure that signatures on emails are professional, helpful, and primarily contain contact information.
Are political or cultural emojis suitable for work emails? Many employees now use flags, symbols, and other small graphics in their email signatures to indicate the social, personal, or cultural causes important to them.
Deciding whether this is appropriate for a work email is entirely up to you, but be sure to keep all messages professional, and recognize that differences in views between employees are going to surface, perhaps far more quickly when emojis are used to signal alliances or socio-political affiliations.
Professionalism and mutual respect are key here. Give others the same respect you would want for yourself, and make sure that the topics of all of your emails are businesslike, on-topic, and respectful.
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