Unfortunately, our email etiquette seems to be getting worse.
Each day, more than 200 billion emails are sent and received around the globe, and U.S. workers spend an average of 6.3 hours on email daily. Add to this the constant flow of information and content from countless other sources, and it’s easy to understand how we’re suffering from email fatigue and getting lazy.
That said, here are a few common email mistakes you can avoid:
1. Writing vague subject lines: When deciding whether to open an email, we typically look first at the sender, then the subject line. Clearly describe your email’s purpose so that if you aren’t cool enough to pass the first criteria, you can win your reader over with the second.
2. Not introducing yourself: If the recipient might not remember you, save him the hassle of searching his contacts for your email address. Provide a brief introduction and explanation of how you met or know each other. If alcohol was involved, you might want to make the introduction longer.
3. Not introducing your topic: Ditto for your message. If the email recipient might not understand why you’re writing, introduce and briefly explain the reason for your email.
4. Abusing the urgent setting: Avoid being the boy who cried wolf, and don’t use the urgent button on every email. The only topics that qualify as urgent are impending deadlines, disciplinary actions or free food in the break room. Everything else can wait.
5. Attaching large or questionable files: Avoid large files that take up space and are a pain to download. Learn how to minimize file sizes, and avoid attaching zip files (they might get bounced for security reasons) and selfies (they might get bounced for social reasons).
6. Including improper links: With the growing awareness of cyber security challenges, hyperlinks, unknown website links and shortened URLs can create an uncomfortable situation for your recipients. Be transparent—include the full link for them to consider, and never include links to improper or compromised websites (including dreaded YouTube “blackhole” links).
7. Asking for personal or sensitive information: Regardless of how well you know your recipient, never ask him to send personal or sensitive information via email. This includes log-ins, passwords or favorite Kenny G. albums.
8. Discussing sensitive matters: Confidential or sensitive matters should never be sent via email, unless you are attempting to establish a trail of responsibility and liability—which just makes you annoying.
9. Sending inappropriate content: Never assume that what you write in an email is private. It is not, and more importantly, that inappropriate joke or comment just inculpated the person to whom you sent the email.
10. Failing to use BCC with distribution lists: When sending an email to numerous recipients, always include email addresses in the blind carbon copy (BCC:) line. Failing to do so will expand others’ email distribution lists and shrink your reputation for privacy protection.
11. Using CC inappropriately: Never include a supervisor or other unrelated party in your conversation. Some people do this to attempt to claim credit or pass responsibility, but all it does is elevate your level of douchebaggery.
12. Ignoring proper grammar and etiquette: Emails are reflection of you, so failing to proofread every email before you send it just validates your ignoramus status.
13. Getting too familiar: Unless you are writing to a best friend, spouse or other close acquaintance, don’t assume your recipient wants to be treated like your fraternity brother.
14. Not deleting email trails: Every email you forward or respond to usually includes the trail of of previous emails. Often, those trails include sensitive or inappropriate material. Play it safe, and always delete the trail or start with a new email. If you choose to include the trail to assist with explaining your email, be sure to check it and delete anything that’s unnecessary or redundant.
15. Confusing gender: Unisex names can cause confusion—and tremendous embarrassment—clear up anybody’s gender before you address them in your email.
16. Sending angry emails: Nothing good comes from an angry email. If you must get something off your chest, write the email and stash it in your “Saved Drafts,” then read it later to discover what a tremendous disaster you avoided.
17. Sending pointless messages: Avoid long diatribes that provide no value to the recipient. Save those for term papers.
18. Playing date tag: If you need to schedule an appointment, give specific options in your request. Consider using services like Doodle or Sunrise if you are dealing with numerous participants at once.
19. Not including a specific call to action (if one is needed): If you need someone to do something, then be specific and tell them. If you are emailing multiple people, be clear who is responsible for which action. Failing to do so will almost assuredly mean that you will get stuck with the task.
20. Getting in the last word: If no call to action or request is included in an email you receive, resist the urge to get in the last word with a response. We all have enough email already.
Email is certainly not dying anytime soon, which means we need to continue to be on our toes. Adopt and practice a few good habits and adhere to polite and useful mail etiquette, and you will avoid being filtered into everyone’s email blacklist.
Peter Gasca is an entrepreneur, consultant and author. He is an advisor at Startup.SC and founder of Naked Cask, an innovative startup in the craft beer industry. Gasca is also an executive in residence and director of the Community and Business Engagement Institute at Coastal Carolina University. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.Copyright © 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.