In February 2017 The Radicati Group projected that the number of emails sent per day in 2017 averaged a staggering 269 billion.
Some days I feel like most of those come through my inbox.
While there are other means of work communication popping up such as Slack, email still remains king.
Between my various methods of employment and this site I am the proud owner of a half a dozen active email addresses all feeding me a daily dose of frequent distractions.
As architects we have to deal with a large number of different parties at the same time. Clients, consultants, contractors, engineers and many others are all competing for our attention.
Over the years I have developed a few habits to be a more productive emailer, so hopefully you will find these tips useful when dealing with your inbox overload (overlord?).
These rules are also important to keep in mind when corresponding with a potential architecture employer.
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So here are my 5 Ways To Write Better Emails As An Architect.
1. Get to the point!
I am sure your high school English teacher would be very impressed with how verbose you have become, but I hate it. I see countless examples of meandering, rambling emails that seem to go nowhere.
If you don't get my attention in the first three seconds I am going to "save it for later" which essentially means I will ignore it.
You have to get to the point and fast, ideally in the first sentence.
Make it clear what you want and what actions are required on my part. This is especially critical when the email is sent to a group of people, make sure you identify who is supposed to act on the task given.
2. Keep it short
Related to getting to the point is keeping it short.
One of my former managers had a rule that there could be only one question in an email. I think this is a great way to get a response. I often see the "checklist" approach to emailing and it is an ineffective technique.
Let's use an example to illustrate.
Please send me the design changes for the northwest portion of the building we discussed last week, including the client comments, updated specs, MEP drawings, expected material suppliers and any dietary restrictions for the upcoming lunch meeting.
A common mistake many make when emailing is sending over a giant to-do list. Unfortunately when the recipient sees this they might not have everything available on the list at that moment. So it gets put off and then gets forgotten.
The engineer in the above example would have been much better off asking for only one or two things, split up over separate emails.
3. Reply efficiently and consistently
The reason you should reply "efficiently" instead of "quickly" comes down to your own personal method of working. I find the email pop-up very distracting and takes me out of what I am doing. However, you may prefer to see a message come in and reply immediately.
This also depends on the type of architecture firm culture you have. Perhaps waiting a few hours to respond to an email is not acceptable.
Either method you choose, the let it sit or reply instantly, be consistent. The consultants and other team members you work with will become accustomed to your email style and response times.
4. Be professional
In a world of emoticons and hashtags, you should still keep in mind that emailing at work is to be kept as strictly professional. This extends just beyond the use of smileys and gifs but also includes the simple tone of your email.
Do not engage in an argument over email, use condescending phrases or other negative emotions.
Staying positive is critical to not only keep up a good relationship with the design team but will often result in a higher response rate. 😀
5. Check before sending
Beyond just the standard spell check, make sure to read over everything you send out.
Architecture is such a complicated profession that one misplaced word could change the entire meaning of an email. Telling a contractor to DO something instead of DON'T could lead to a disaster.
Remember that every email you send is literally a written record, that could be used against you in a court of law. No pressure.
Double check the recipients to make sure that you are including the right people. Leave it blank until you have completed the body of the email, to avoid the embarrassment of sending a partially completed message.
Make sure the attachment(s) you are including are actually attached.
I hope you found these 5 Ways To Write Better Emails As An Architect helpful.
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Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
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