The 2016 presidential election has forever changed how all of us look at and use email.
Speaking for myself, I once felt free to use email to communicate thoughts freely, almost like in person or in a telephone call, and the time saved was addicting.
A few years ago, after a first run in with a 'forwarding situation,' where my less-than-generous comments about someone were forward to them by a disgruntled colleague, I began to make changes. Now, after a year of Hillary Clinton's ever-worse email server debacle, I have changed my habits entirely. These are five new habits I stick to religiously in order to keep email a safe form of professional communication going forward:
1) Keep it short
I no longer use emails for deep-strategy writeups. If I have a long strategic writeup to send that cannot be communicated orally, I will write it up in a document and send it, and if that document contains confidential information or other opinions, I will password protect it.
2) Tell them to text, then call you
If asked for an opinion that may be considered controversial, I now tell the recipient to text me to set a time to call me for a few minutes. Interestingly, I have found that if I keep the oral communication short and to the point, it's far less inefficient than you would expect.
3) Use shorthand
With close colleagues who I trust not to forward material, but who are still vulnerable to hack (though who would want to hack me, I have no idea) using shorthand that is recognizable to your colleagues but not others can work very well. An example about something I was recently working on: "Please have DG ask him about CKK and his req. notes." The key factors are the assumption of contextual knowledge and the shorthand for important elements.
4) Less opinion
In general, I have begun thinking of email more as a logistical form of communication than a deep one. Opinion, which is usually the most damaging way email records can hurt most regular people like you or me, has less place.
5) Have coffee
Reducing my overall email numbers, and their content, has had one very pleasant outcome: it has pushed me to see my regular business and personal connects more in person. Sometimes, technology makes us forget the critical importance of in-person communication and reducing my email footprint has helped me to reconnect.