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10 Tips for Better E-mailing in 2010

Posted by Rubel Khan on January 20, 2010

Making that Office Productivity Resolution a Reality: 10 Tips for Better E-mailing in 2010

19 January, 2010 By Marsha Egan

At the beginning of the last decade, e-mail use was already mainstream. Businesses had integrated it into their daily affairs, and periodically checking our inboxes was part of our quotidian routine. Over the next 10 years, e-mail use continued to grow. But unlike before, when we actually maintained control, e-mail started to rule our lives. Wi-fi made checking e-mail at the airport terminal irresistible, and now we awake from our slumber when our smartphones ding in the middle of the night.

Now, in 2010, entrepreneurs, executives, and those working from home offices struggle with the overwhelming number of e-mails they receive each day. Since my 12-Step Program for E-mail E-ddiction received international attention in 2007, I’ve heard thousands of stories from office employees around the world who struggle with e-mail overwhelm. Their stories are all unique, but the bottom line is always the same: their inboxes stress them out. In today’s world, where e-mail is an inevitable part of our work (and personal) lives, stress caused by our inboxes sets the tone for much bigger problems.

But, there’s hope! Instead of letting excessive amounts of e-mail control you, recognize that you have a problem with the way you manage your e-mail, and then do something about it! For the third year in a row, I have declared the last week in January as “Clean Out Your Inbox Week.” January is an excellent time for new beginnings, and as we advance into a new decade, Clean Out Your Inbox Week 2010 is the perfect occasion to incorporate healthy e-mail habits into your life so that the next decade is less hectic.

Here are 10 sure-fire tips to sending more effective e-mails. By following these tips, you will begin to regain control of your Inbox and set the example for others.

1. Be very clear. By making sure that the content of your e-mails is very understandable, you can avoid people e-mailing you with questions. Taking a small amount of time on the front end to read through the e-mail you are about to send can go a long way in avoiding a return question.

2. Make the subject line detailed. By including detailed information in your subject lines, your recipients will be able to sort and respond to your message with the right priority. The detailed subject line will also help you sort and handle responses.

3. Use only one subject per e-mail. The reality is that most people skim over their e-mail. If you put two requests in one e-mail, there is a strong likelihood that only one of the requests will be given attention. It is more effective to send two e-mails with different subjects than to incorporate two subjects into one e-mail. This practice is also helpful for people who want to file their messages.

4. Place the main point, assignment, or request in the first two lines of the e-mail. People have a tendency to build up to a conclusion when they write. At times, this tendency makes it very difficult for e-mail readers to figure out what the main issue or request is. By putting your main point in the first two sentences, you can avoid misinterpretations and get readers focused on exactly what you want, right from the get-go.

5. Copy only the people who need to read the message. For every extraneous person you copy on an e-mail, there is potential to receive a response from each. Now, you’ve just created more unnecessary e-mail for the both of you!

6. Send less e-mail. While this may seem a no-brainer, e-mail begets e-mail. Consider your alternatives. In many cases, it is better and easier to pick up the phone, visit the would-be recipient’s desk, or simply not respond.

7. Have a detailed signature line. Make sure that all of your contact information is in the signature line of every e-mail you send. This way, anyone who needs to contact you will not have to e-mail you asking for your address, fax number, etc.

8. Keep e-mails short. When you send short, easy-to-read messages, people will respond in the same manner and you save incredible amounts of time sorting through your inbox.

9. Avoid controversial or argumentative e-mailing. When you engage in an emotional discussion via e-mail, the e-mails will spiral out of control. Emotional issues should never be handled by e-mail; a phone call or person-to-person handling of the situation is best, both for the sake of your inbox, and the health of the office dynamic.

10. Purge! Purge! Purge! People don’t realize that too many megabytes can cripple, slow, or even crash their hard drives. Systematic deletions of out-of-date items, saving e-mails without large attachments to the hard drive, and purging your sent mail can help you stay ahead of the curve and protect your computer.

While each one of these tips may save only a small amount of time or reduce your e-mail only by a few, collectively they have enormous potential to help you control the number of the e-mails you receive. E-mail is here to stay, so the sooner you develop productive habits with its use, the more time you will have for what is really important in your life. Here’s to a more productive and less stressful decade!

For more information, please visit http://www.EganEmailSolutions.com. And to start your own Clean Out Your Inbox Week campaign, visit http://EganEmailSolutions.com/ekit.html.

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC, is CEO of the Egan Group, Inc., Reading PA. An ICF-Certified Professional Coach, she is a global authority on e-mail productivity. She works with companies who want to recover lost time and money due to wasteful e-mail practices. Her newest book, Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-Mail Excellence, released in 2009, is available on Amazon. Her ebooks “Help! I’ve Fallen into My Inbox and Can’t Climb Out!,””Five E-mail Self management Strategies that Will Add Hours to Your Week” and “Reclaim Your Workplace E-mail Productivity: Add BIG BUCKS to Your Bottom Line” can be found at http://EganEmailSolutions.com.

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