Former Google CEO's Email Advice

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, has written a new book, How Google Works. His advice includes nine rules for managing email:

1. Respond quickly. There are people who can be relied upon to respond promptly to emails, and those who can't. Strive to be one of the former.
2. When writing an email, every word matters, and useless prose doesn't.
3. Clean out your inbox constantly.
4. Handle email in LIFO order (Last In First Out). Sometimes the older stuff gets taken care of by someone else.
5. Remember, you're a router. When you get a note with useful information, consider who else would find it useful.
6. When you use the bcc (blind copy) feature, ask yourself why. The answer is almost always that you are trying to hide something, which is counterproductive and potentially knavish in a transparent culture.
7. Don't yell. If you need to yell, do it in person. It is FAR TOO EASY to do it electronically.
8. Make it easy to follow up on requests. When you send a note to someone with an action item that you want to track, copy yourself, then label the note "follow up." That makes it easy to find and follow up on the things that haven't been done; just resend the original note with a new intro asking "Is this done?"
9. Help your future self search for stuff. If you get something you think you may want to recall later, forward it to yourself along with a few keywords that describe its content.

Schmidt's ninth rule supports an IBM study I read a few years ago: Filing emails into folders is a waste of time. I'm old school and still do this, but with more sophisticated search-as in Google's Gmail-finding messages is easier than ever. 

Discussion Starters:

  • Read more detail about the rules. With which rules do you agree and disagree?
  • What advice would you add to Schmidt's list?