Do you know when to send tasks one email at a time?

Last updated by Brady Stroud [SSW] 9 days ago.See history

Do you sometimes find that people don't follow all the items you have listed in a long and carefully drafted email?

Make it easier for everyone by sending unrelated (independent) tasks one email at a time. Also, don't forget to make your requests very clear. With separate emails, When a person has completed a specific task they just have to reply "Done" to that email, delete it, then move on to the next task.

Breaking up unrelated tasks

If you have a list of things to be done, have a second look, you may find that your requests are not directly related (don't depend on each other OR are not to be done in the same environment). In this case, it is better to break it up and send separate emails.

As per the examples above, if you are requesting many smaller tasks under the same topic, you should group them in the same email. In this case, number each task that you wish to be completed.

Figure: Bad example - One email for multiple unrelated tasks (domains vs styling)

Figure: Good example - Separate emails for unrelated tasks. A few related tasks in the same email

Breaking up monster tasks

If you have a very large task that requires days of work, it is also better to break it up and send separate related emails. A big task like "Boil the Ocean" would become several emails with consistent subjects:

  • "Boil the Ocean #1",
  • "Boil the Ocean #2",
  • "Boil the Ocean #3", etc

The advantages are that you get an email history for specific parts, making it easier to include someone else and follow up.

Tip: Understand tasks sizes by reading how to size user stories effectively.

Replying 'dones'

When replying to emails, always reply to each email individually. Don't consolidate them all into one as it leaves unfinished email threads.

Learn more about the best ways to reply "Dones".

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