4 Things to Check – What to do Before Sending Any Email

March 18, 2019

What to do before sending any email for work.

The average office professional receives 90 emails a day, according to researchers.

That’s, like, a crazy amount. No wonder why so many professionals complain about being buried in email – take two days off, and you come back to 180 unopened messages!

How do you overcome this problem?

It starts from within. The best way to get less emails is to send fewer, better emails, as it leads to better collaboration and avoids long email chains.

That’s what this post is about. In his LinkedIn Learning series Time Management Tips Weekly, Instructor Dave Crenshaw said there’s a simple formula to follow before sending any email.

This formula will take all of a few minutes to follow, tops. And, by following it, you’ll send fewer, clearer emails – which will lead to you getting fewer, clearer emails in return.

Everybody wins.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dave Crenshaw explains what to do before sending any email (trust us, the world will thank you for following this advice).

4 Things to Check Before Sending Any Email (The World Will Thank You For Doing This)

First off, before sending any email, Crenshaw recommends counting to 10. By doing this, it’ll give you time to detach yourself from it and review the email more objectively.

The next step is to actually review the email. The four things you should look for are:

    1. Make sure it’s not emotional.

“Email is for information and tasks,” Crenshaw said in his course. “Conversations are better for emotion. If what you're trying to convey is your opinion on a sensitive subject, perhaps a phone call or even a video email would be better."

I couldn’t agree more. Sending an angry or passive-aggressive email is almost never a good idea. If you are emotional about an issue, it’s far, far better to talk it out in person.

Sometimes writing an angry email alone will prove cathartic, even if you don’t send it (this was a technique used by none other than Abe Lincoln). Once you get it out of your system, delete the draft, and then either call the person or let it go.

    2. Check the subject line and make sure it’s on topic and typo-free.

The subject line is the most important part of the email. Does it accurately cover the topic? Is it succinct?

Also, a spelling error in a subject line is particularly embarrassing. So double-check it to ensure all is good.

    3. Check the body for clarity.

You want your email body to be as clear and concise as possible. Some best practices when reviewing the body of your email are:

  • Keep paragraphs to two sentences or less.
  • Lead with the why, then the what.
  • Use bullet points, if your email is longer than two paragraphs.
  • If your email contains different asks to different people, @ at each to call out each specific ask. You might also consider sending them each separate emails.
  • Double-check the body for spelling and grammar. This course can help with that.

You can learn more about writing effective emails in this course.

    4. Check attachments and links.

Lastly, double-check that whatever documents you’ve said you’ve attached are actually attached. Or, if you’ve included a link to a doc, ensure the link is correct.

Sounds Simple, Right? The Key is Making it a Habit

These tips might sound like common sense. Here’s the bigger point – go through this methodological checklist on each email you send. Soon enough, it’ll become a habit.

This habit will help you consistently send clearer, better emails. The people you work with will very much appreciate it. And, it’ll also lead to fewer emails in your inbox, giving you the freedom to do your best work.

Want to learn more time management tips like this? Check out Dave Crenshaw’s LinkedIn Learning series, Time Management Tips Weekly.

Videos within the series cover how to: