Business Success

Declare War on Endless Email Threads

March 10, 2015

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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You’re sitting at your desk,

overwhelmed with things to do…

and here comes another email!

This email will suck time right out of your schedule in a massive way; and worse than that, it hits eight of your colleagues in the same manner.

This is just the beginning of an email thread that begins to spiral out of control.

It turns into a 20-email volley that is copied to you and your eight colleagues every time.

So you have eight extremely busy business people sorting through pages of email conversations for the one nugget of information they actually need or the one question they need to answer, if indeed there is one.

According to, the average office worker spends 28% of their workday on email – or about 14 hours a week. According to another study in the same article, the average email user spends 16 hours a year just deleting emails. That’s two workdays with your finger on the delete key.

Is that really the best use of your time

AND your team’s time?

It is time for us to be effective leaders and declare war on those endless email threads. Here’s how.

When writing or responding to an email, follow these simple guidelines.

  • Set it up (or summarize it if you are on the receiving end) in bullet point or numbered format for easy skimming.
  • Answer each point clearly, and succinctly define the following:
    • WHAT is needed
    • WHEN it is needed
    • WHO is responsible
  • Do not automatically “reply to all”. Send or reply only to those who need to know.
  • If you are working on a project or tracking data, use a centralized document or spreadsheet that can be updated as a single point of reference.

When it comes to email, keep it simple, time-honoring, and effective. And train your team to do the same.


  1. J.J. Gembinski says:

    Anyone who has ever tried to manage a project through e-mail alone knows how incredibly painful it can be. Your suggestion to use a centralized document is critical to efficiently managing a project and keeping track of only the information required to make the project a success. I always track customer specs in a document saved to a shared location so when that deluge of e-mail inevitably pours in, I can easily record the most important bits and safely ignore the rest.