Leveraging Email to Your Advantage

leverage email

Leveraging email can be an effective and efficient way to communicate or it can be a nightmare of wasted time. Here are some ways to use it to your advantage.

Keep your messages short.

It will save you and your reader time and better communicate your message. Use this tip for long back-and-forth communication.

If you don’t need a response, say so in your message.

Again, this will save you and your reader time. I just like to end this type of email with “Thank you. No need to respond”.

Ask yes-or-no questions and ask for a simple response.

This will make it easier for your reader to process their emails more quickly. Maybe this will mean that you’ll get a response back sooner.

If you are responding to questions in a long email, use a different color with your answers.

Making your emails very visual is helpful to better communicate your message.

Unsubscribe to mass mailings.

You know. all those emails you never open. You can also re-subscribe later if you miss them. If you make any online purchases, you’ll get automatically subscribed to sites, so you’ll have to revisit this exercise occasionally.

Schedule time to process your inbox and enforce a time limit on this task.

I like to set a timer, so if I do “fall down the rabbit hole” I’ll be alerted that my time is up. Timers really help you focus!

Do not open unexpected attachments.

They could be spam. Make it a rule that you don’t open any attachments from anyone you don’t know.

Leveraging email can be an effective and efficient way to communicate or it can be a nightmare of wasted time. Click To Tweet

A little frugality and focusing ways of leveraging email can create a new-found time in your day.

Learn more by reading 3 Acts to Processing Your eMail.


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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Kathleen Murphy on February 15, 2021 at 7:22 am

    Great post!

    I especially like the idea if using a timer when processing through our inboxes to stay on track and on schedule. Time can just fly by otherwise!

    Further to your tip on long email, for long emails I receive, I copy and paste the sender’s questions/topics in my reply with my answers in a different color, usually red. It helps.

    Thanks for this helpful post!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 15, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Yes. Long emails can get confusing and sometime you don’t get every question answered. You solution is great.

  2. Diane N Quintana on February 15, 2021 at 8:34 am

    These are great tips, Janet! My favorite is ‘set a timer’. I can easily fall down the rabbit hole and liner too long with my emails.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 15, 2021 at 4:41 pm

      Diane, I sometimes set a timer. I love to get my inbox to zero.

  3. Janet Barclay on February 15, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Just when I think I have my email under control, I read this and discover there’s even more I could be doing! Thank you so much, Janet.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 15, 2021 at 4:40 pm

      You are welcome Janet. Try just one of these to be more efficient.

  4. Seana Turner on February 15, 2021 at 10:57 am

    I learned from someone else that tip about saying that you don’t need a response. I have found this particularly helpful when emailing someone who is going through an illness or difficult situation. All I want to do is let them know that I care and am praying, not add the burden of needing to respond. Great tip!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 15, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      I never thought to that, but you are so right. You don’t want people to feel obligated to respond.

  5. Sabrina Quairoli on February 15, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Great tips! These are great for small business owners to make their time more effective. I found that bullet or numbered lists are great if you need various stuff from one person. It helps get responses quickly.

  6. Ronni Eisenberg on February 15, 2021 at 11:35 am

    I’m constantly asked about organizing email. You have great suggestions here.

    Sometimes, when I know it’s going to be clearer, I’ll answer, right underneath their question, in bold.

    You are so right about not opening up attachments if you don’t know who sent them. Smart!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 15, 2021 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks Ronnie. I had to teach my mom not to open attachments!

  7. Kristin Zucaro on February 15, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks Janet! I’m a big fan of the “put the ask in the subject line” approach, as well as the brief bulleted list, and replying in a different color. All of your tips are actionable and helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 15, 2021 at 4:32 pm

      Thank Kristin. Yes, all these tips are easy and can save so much time.

  8. Linda Samuels on February 15, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Great tips, Janet! Keeping emails short. Oy. I try, but I know that it’s easier in some instances than others. But since I know how challenging it can be for me to read a LONG email, I should keep that in mind when writing one too. I appreciate the reminder.

    I wonder if the email is becoming a generational thing. I prefer communicating this way, but my daughters prefer texting. And it’s hard to write long texts. Perhaps in the future, email will disappear, and we’ll be left with super short texts to communicate.

  9. Janet Schiesl on February 16, 2021 at 6:27 am

    Linda, I’ve thought the same thing. My sons don’t email except when absolutely necessary. They prefer text.
    I tend to send several emails instead of one long one. My thoughts are that the recipient can save only the subject they need and be able to find by the subject line.

  10. Melanie Summers on February 16, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    All excellent tips! I hadn’t considered the idea of preempting that you don’t require a response. I bet that would cut down on a lot of excess.

  11. Julie Bestry on February 16, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    This is all essential advice. The bit about short replies can be hard, of course, when you’re trying to make sure that someone follows instructions to the letter. My rule is that if I’ve had to clarify something with more than two emails, it needs to be a phone call instead. I guess we need to “think postcards, not letters!”

    Your comment about responding in a different color reminds me, once again, how ridiculous it is that all email platforms don’t use one single method for delineating quoted content and iterations. 30 years ago, I had email where each level of quoting had an additional “>” mark, so if I’m quoting you having quoted me, then my original content would have “>>>” in front. But even while most email did that, AOL used to have a long, unbreakable vertical line in blue in the left margin, so you couldn’t easily quote just a line or two and then respond. Over the years, different systems have automatically changed with colorful versions of the >>>> marks and others with no delineation, just plain text! And nowadays, my MS Outlook uses the old blue vertical line, but other people sometimes see the >>>> marks OR the line, while they respond in colors, which I only see as black text, because I receive email in plain text, not HTML. It’s kooky that there’s not one method that we ALL can use sensibly.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 17, 2021 at 7:28 am

      Ha! Julie, I always love your comments!
      I, myself don’t like making phone calls, but I agree, sometimes they are necessary for clarity.

  12. Lucy Kelly on February 17, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Yes! And I would add, change your email settings so you don’t send your “signature” text more than once – long chains of responses where each person’s logos and links and inspirational sayings show up each and every email are torture to wade through!

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