Email is one of those things you enter into mindlessly, but it really requires a more mindful approach. You have to be intentional about managing your email so it isn't a time drain and be careful about what you say in it so it isn't a career drain. Mostly, we think about how to manage email so we don't screw up success.
But what if you flipped this mindset on its head? What if you considered how you might use email more effectively (beyond just the basic uses for it) to directly fuel success?
I have thought about this, having learned the art and science of effective email over a 30-year corporate career, and will gladly share with you a proactive approach--six emails you should send each week to directly enhance your prospects for success.
1. The summation email
Things move forward when everyone is clear and feels accountability as to what to move forward on. I'll bet you're in a meeting at least once a week that could really benefit from your taking the time to spell out what was discussed and agreements that were made. It's a way of showing you're on top of things and that you're action oriented.
And by summarizing who'll do what by when, you'll move the topic matter forward, serving as a driving force toward progress. That's a very good thing to be associated with (as long as your role gives you the right to do this).
2. The email to yourself
Yes, you're reading this right. For the last email you write on Friday, write in capital letters in the subject header one of your non-negotiable core values. When you open that email first thing Monday morning and you see the word "KINDNESS" (for example) staring at you, it's a reminder to live that value all week long. You have a choice to live each day in support of your values or in spite of them. This is a little reminder to stick to the former.
People won't know about this message you send to yourself, but they'll pick up on a positive message you're sending about yourself.
3. The appreciation email
If you take the time each week to email one person who deserves your unsolicited praise and appreciation, I guarantee each week you'll be surprising someone (in a good way). Sadly, heartfelt appreciation, written out so that people can put it in their "smile file" and enjoy it more than once, is a lost art. I got the most heartfelt appreciation back from simply showing the smallest bit of it myself.
Think of the last time someone went out of their way to show that you were valued and appreciated. You don't forget it. They won't either.
And that kind of touch is not the kind of thing that people keep to themselves; they tell others about it--which isn't bad for your reputation, either.
4. The thank-you email
Similar to yet different from the appreciation email, this is about thanking someone for something they did for you. Maybe someone took the time to give you feedback, turned around a request overnight, or helped you unjam the printer when you were in a hurry. The key is to be specific about what you're thanking them for and why it made a difference to you, while it may have seemed like a small thing to them.
I got into this habit and found that, sadly, taking time to show thanks stands out. And not to be forgotten, consistently showing an attitude of gratitude can influence people's attitude toward you for the better.
5. The growth email
Once a week, email a mentor, ask someone for feedback, ask if you can meet for coffee to pick someone's brain, ask a question about something you're curious about--anything that will lead to your personal growth.
Don't be a burden on others; make the requests small and easily doable. But don't underestimate the potential here; establishing a steady drumbeat of micro-learning with a few keystrokes is an easy investment you can make in yourself.
6. Email a friend for no reason
Gallup research has shown that one of the leading indicators of strong performance in an employee is whether they have a best friend at work. Once a week, send an email that simply serves to fuel the friendship. And don't limit yourself to sending a friendly email just to co-worker friends. Any friend will do. An 81-year Harvard study showed that the key to happiness and success all comes back to relationships.
So cut out six emails a week that serve no purpose and replace them with these six purpose-filled ones. Hitting "Send" never felt so good.