Email as a Communication Tool

I recently read an interesting post from Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In his post he made two points that I thought were very important.

First, he talked about the fact that almost all of his communications are now via email. Hyatt explained:

I probably don’t send more than half a dozen letters a year. Even then, it’s usually because it’s a legal matter that requires this kind of documentation. It’s hard to believe that in 2007, anyone is still sending letters. Snail-mail—at least for most business correspondence—is dead.

People just don’t have the time for an “inquiry-response cycle” that takes weeks. Even faxes are dead. In the 1990s, fax machines were cutting edge technology. Today, they are about as useless as an electric typewriter. I can’t even remember the last time I sent or received a fax. I still subscribe to, which allows you to send and receive faxes on your computer, but even that sits idle. In today’s world, even a fax is too much hassle.

As attorneys we often fail to recognize how other industries work. It is important to keep in mind that our clients, especially our business clients work differently than how we work as attorneys. If your business client is used to communicating with others via email, that means that he likely wants to communicate with you in that same manner.

Hyatt also points out the necessity of handling your email in a timely and organized manner. He explains:

If you have more than 100 e-mails in your inbox at any one-time, something is wrong with your personal management system. I get more e-mails than that every day. My goal is to empty my e-mail inbox daily. The key is to read the e-mail once, then make a decision and act. If you can’t act on it immediately, put the item on your task list and file the e-mail in another folder. Only unprocessed messages should be in your inbox.

I can think of few pieces of advice that are better than reading an email only once. If we would all do this, our inboxes would be empty and our tasks would be on our to-do lists, where they belong.