If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If you’re scrambling to get out of the office and need to hand off a project electronically, the least you can do is:
- Thoughtfully outline the background information (Where did this project originate? Why is it important?)
- Give clear deliverables (a bulleted list would be great here)
- Provide timing for each deliverable
- Specify who can answer questions about this project in your absence
- Say “thank you”
By listing out this information, your email will be more of a “brain share” than a “brain dump.” The recipient will appreciate being able to take on the project without wasting a bunch of time decoding the email.
If you were recently on the receiving end of a “brain dump,” I sympathize. Depending on who sent it, you might just have to power through. If you can, however, try to put the responsibility back on the sender. If the email is truly confusing and the timing isn’t too tight, politely tell the sender that you need to talk through the request before you take action. The message might look something like this:
Thanks for sharing this information with me – it looks like we have a lot to work on! Before I can get started, I do have quite a few questions, though. I’ll set up a quick meeting so that we can talk through the project and its deliverables.
As the “brain dump” recipient, remember the frustration you experienced and make sure that you don’t ever dump on someone.
Remember - it’s up to each one of us to be thoughtful with our emails. Turning “brain dumps” into “brain shares” is just one more way to avoid sending an email lemon.