Email, email, email. It's been the center of every office I've worked in. But I've finally broken free and let me tell you, it feels amazing. No more chaotic, rigid, and powerless feelings. It's like a weight has been lifted and I can breathe again. Say goodbye to email overload and hello to a happier work life!
For years I’ve emailed coworkers, back and forth and round and round. It's such a clunky way of communicating, but it’s really all I knew.
On my first day at Bulb, I remember distinctly saying, “Um… I haven’t gotten any emails from anyone.” To which the answer was, “Oh yeah, we don’t do internal emails.” Huh? I almost didn’t know where to begin without emails lighting my way forward.
Fast forward a few months, and I can honestly say I haven’t received a single internal email since starting here. Everything we need to discuss within our team happens in messaging platforms like MS Teams and Slack. We’ll get to those in a minute, but let’s talk about some of the “gotchas” of email first.
Here’s one CLASSIC example.
Have you ever...
Yea that’s never happened to me either… 😊
Miscommunication blunders like this happen ALL the time while emailing and they massively slow down progress. Sometimes this can just feel like a “communication miss”, but really, it’s a failing around how email is used for these scenarios.
Internal email is often based on the “individual”, not teams or projects. But what would something better look like?
Have you ever been invited to a group chat? It’s exciting. Everyone is connecting and you feel part of the group. There is an ease to communication.
At Bulb Digital, we’ve embraced the power of “channels” in platforms like MS Teams and Slack. Think of “channels” as work-smarter group chats. Creating project-based conversation threads brings together all team members working on a specific project, allowing everyone to stay informed and engaged in real time, removing the need for unnecessary and confusing email chains. Both Teams and Slack are designed to use this “channel” structure.
This was all completely new to me, and it took some getting used to. But now I’m starting to realize all the issues I had with internal emails, and more importantly, how they made me feel. Yeah, we’re talking about feelings folks.
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An empty inbox will always be a thing of beauty to me. I feel an immense amount of peace when I see the “Items: 0” flash on the lower left corner of my Outlook. For years, I would perpetually have between 35 and 50 emails in my inbox no matter WHAT I did. It put me in this perpetual state of stress where I was powerless and not in control.
Removing internal emails instantly made my inbox easier to wrangle. The nonexistence of clunky internal emails flying around all of the time has been a huge part of the peace and feeling of productive efficiency that comes from communicating through Slack vs. internal email.
There are a lot of variables that contribute to camaraderie among coworkers, but I feel more of a connection with informal messaging. Slacking (yes, we use Slack. Listen to our podcast episode on some of the non-Microsoft apps we use here) each other removes some of the formality and intentionality of email.
The beauty of informality is the quick efficient communication removing that state of preparedness crafting an email demands. I had a brilliant professor say:
“Pretend every word you write in an email costs you $20 and the person you are sending it to $20. Read back through the email and remove any words you don’t want to pay for or make them pay for.”
I can usually reduce my email by 30-40% when following this rule. The switch from email to messaging with your team does this mindset shift for you since you feel you can express your thoughts through shorter punchier statements without the formality and context setting often necessary when writing an email.
Even something as simple as not needing to type the “Hey Mitch, I wanted to run an idea by you. Do you think we should...”, you just message them the “Do you think we should...” part. Way easier.
I am the best email proofreader AFTER I’ve pressed send. I could have read the email 5 times and only when reading through it in my sent folder I noticed a typo somehow slipped in.
One of the best parts of messaging in Slack is that you can edit your message after sending it. This encourages even faster communication – no need to proofread incessantly or overthink it, simply go ahead, press send, get the info out there and if you need to tweak your statement after the fact then no problem, you can edit! Again, “work-smarter group chat.”
I didn’t expect these feelings when I got the “we don’t do internal emails” news. But it’s really been great.
Email, you’ll always have a place in my heart (and I’ll use you when I need to send something externally), but you’re staying out of our internal chats.
The thing that we didn’t touch on today is the fact that this takes the whole team to buy in. It doesn’t work well if some people stick with email and others move to the modern era 😉. But we’ll save our recommendations for that for another day.