Email the bane of our lives and of course an efficient time saver! Why is it that few people follow basic approaches of other forms of communication medium…
. Memo’s… in the good old days, a simple principle was one decision or subject one memo. Keep it focused!
. Memo‘s listing actions to be taking, assigning roles to individuals and responsibilities, copied to those who need to be informed.
. Letters… carefully addressed, polite clear and above all concise, perfect for formal communication.
. Telephone calls for regular contact, urgent issues and well, to keep in personal touch with people.
Here are the simple rules I live by…
. One subject, issue or decision per email.
. Clearly assign responsibilities to named individuals.
. Send to individuals who have to take action.
. Only copy to those who must be informed.
. Never use BCC, it can only cause problems.
. Never copy to individuals for no CLEAR purpose.
. When snowed under… phone for an update and… delete.
. Never expect reply within 24 hours, preferably 72 hours!
Some tips that I like from others:
1. If it takes 2 minutes to read – delete
2. If its not a response to ones own e-mail – delete (anonymous friend) he gleefully explained that others would phone if it were urgent!
Of course others have gone into this in depth detailed descriptions of how to write emails and use smileys, forget tips to University students , there is even Yale library netiquette, and Down under netiquette!. Of course career planners emphasise appropriate behaviour, but at the end of the day who has ever read, trained on or listened to advice on how to email?
I guess its just down to good old fashioned common! yep, the sad fact is that one could be spending hours reading and deleting pointless mails for a long time to come. Perhaps one should seek out an email extension that automatically deletes messages that will take more than two minutes to read, with a response explaining why it was binned… at least it’ll never include the boss, she is way too busy to send long mails!
All Posts in the Inbox Zero Series
. 43F Series: “Inbox Zero”
. Inbox Zero: Articles of faith
. Inbox Zero: Five sneaky email cheats
. Inbox Zero: Where filters will and won’t help
. Inbox Zero: Delete, delete, delete (or, “Fail faster”)
. Inbox Zero: Schedule email dashes
. Inbox Zero: What’s the action here?
. Inbox Zero: Processing to zero
. Inbox Zero: What have you learned?
. Inbox Zero: Better Practices for staying (near) zero