Here at SaneBox, we’re pretty serious about helping you use email in a more efficient, effective, and productive way. Behind our happy-go-lucky attitude, smiles, and beautiful software, our mission is to make email awesome.
But, we thought, let’s try a little experiment. What, exactly, would you have to do to make email truly awful? How could you kill productivity throughout your team, listen to stifled screams, and create a feeling of cold dread when your email arrives in someone else’s inbox?
We’re so glad you asked. Here’s the SaneBox Scoop of what you can do to make email into a truly horrifying experience that encourages everyone in your team to hit the “delete” key. So, with tongue firmly in cheek, here’s how to weaponize your email and make others want to kill it with fire.
Make Your Email Subject Line as Vague and Difficult to Understand as Possible
We’re talking about a monstrosity like this — “Re: Re: Re: Fwd: Re: Re: Information Request.” Honestly, there’s no need to edit this, it’s just about perfect as it is. It tells you nothing, and all those “Re: and Fwd:” at the beginning indicate this has already been through half a dozen other inboxes.
If they are able to tell what the email is about from the subject line, you’re not obfuscating things enough. Try harder.
Alternatively… Try this.
Always Use Email, Especially When Other Communications Would be Better
In a world of instant messaging, Slack, Skype, project management tools, and a plethora of other ways of getting in touch, always insist on email! It doesn’t matter if you could save your question for a meeting, have a two-minute conversation, or give someone a call — put that request in an email, baby.
People love having dozens of emails arriving into their inbox, especially if they all come from you. It lets them know you appreciate them.
Expect Others to Respond to Your Email Straightaway
Anyone who thinks they can wait to respond to your messages is wrong — you need that information right now. Your email is definitely the most important thing in their inbox, so make sure you mark everything with that lovely little red exclamation point.
Sure, you can give them a couple of hours to respond, but if they haven’t come back to you by then, they don’t understand how important your email is. The best response? Send them another email to hurry them along.
But, we might humbly suggest using SaneSnooze to hide emails until needed.
Send an Email at an Inappropriate Time
You know the best time to send an email and expect a response? Evenings and weekends. Make sure you email outside office hours and make it clear you need a response quickly. Never give others the opportunity to completely switch off from work — you don’t, so why should they?
Always Respond to Your Inbox Emails Immediately
One way to really annoy others is to create a hyper-responsive email culture in your team. As soon as an email arrives, reply to it. Encourage everyone else in your team to do the same. The idea is to create as many responses as possible, making it almost impossible to follow conversation threads, and clogging up other people’s inboxes.
Of course, our “two minutes to done” rule might help, but who needs that?
Always Send Multiple Emails as New Thoughts Occur to You
You know people who think about everything that needs to go into an email, carefully construct it, and make it easy to reply to? Losers! What you want to do is to send an email as soon as you think of something that needs someone else’s attention. Then, when something else occurs to you ten minutes later — send another email.
The More Questions You Can Ask in an Email, the Better
As an alternative to the above trick, try cramming as many questions into an email as you can. It’s even better if you can make the questions obscure. Four or five questions in an email is amateur hour, you’re really trying to get to eight or nine. Naturally, if the recipient doesn’t give you answers, be sure to write back promptly and demand to know why.
If someone hasn’t responded, you can always use SaneReminders, but why would anyone not respond to you?
Never Use Proper Formatting or Paragraph Breaks
A true master makes their email a work of interpretive art. Hitting that return key and creating paragraph breaks is only for people who have more time than you do. The more “stream of consciousness” you can make your email, the better. Avoid bullet points and numbered lists like the plague, they would make an email far too coherent. Whitespace is the work of a fiend.
CC in All the People
You don’t have time to filter your contacts. Your best bet is to CC in anyone who might have a vague, tertiary link to your email, no matter how subtle. Think of it as “Six Degrees of Email Elation” — CC in other areas and team members, just on the off chance they need the information you’re providing.
Never Check Recipients Before Hitting “Send”
Everyone deserves to read your messages. That’s why you should never check your recipient list. Who cares if you’ve copied in the executive team? They should know what you’re working on. So go ahead, create that masterful missive, put in all your work distribution email lists, and click “send.”
Who cares if your email goes to the wrong people? It didn’t hurt these folks…
Take a Long Time to Get to the Point
Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you don’t have time to chat. Feel free to shoot the breeze in your email. Ask them about their recent vacation, what they had for dinner last night, whether they enjoyed the latest movie, and how their kids are doing. It’s all about building those interpersonal relationships, and what better way to do that than through email?
Never Profraed Yoru Emial
Grammar, spelling, punctuation? Pah! If they want perfectly worded emails, they should hire an editor. It doesn’t matter if you miss out commas that change context or meaning, other people should instinctively know what you need. So what if it takes twice as long to parse and decode your email? What else do they have to do with their time?
Always Attach Massive Files
Look, just because you could use a service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or other ways to transfer files doesn’t mean you should. Always attach big files to your emails — the recipient will love downloading your 240MB video file, especially if they’re working from a smartphone.
You’re probably reading through this list and nodding in agreement because you know someone that does at least one of these things. Perhaps you feel slightly embarrassed because you do them yourself. Have no fear — we’ve all been there. Email isn’t something we all get right straight away, so if you look upon these transgressions with a little regret, it’s not too late to change! Good luck.