1. Add these phrases to the Subject Header to clarify subject and urgency:
a. Please Advise
b. For Your Action
d. Actions Overdue
e. URGENT – Pls Reply
2. Add "EOM' to avoid writing unnecessary body text if the subject header explains it all.
EOM means “End of Message” and informs the reader that there is no text to open, e.g. "Leaving the Office for rest of Day EOM"
This tells the reader that there is no need to open the email (because it is blank).
3. Read the most recent email response if there are a number of emails with the same subject header – especially after a period of absence from emails, e.g. travel, holidays, time differences between offices. People tend to open and reply to the oldest email when they open Outlook. Don’t read and reply to the oldest email in the chain because you will usually find that the issues have been addressed or questions clarified in later emails – then you would have wasted your time doing research, composing text, and end up looking like an idiot.
2. DON’T TYPE IN CAPITAL LETTERS!
IT APPEARS THAT YOU ARE YELLING AT ME.
5. Doublecheck who is on the distribution list, especially when using “Reply All”
Extraneous names sometimes get automatically added by Microsoft Outlook or by a previous sender - especially if they blind copied others. This can easily happen as email threads get longer with more people jumping in and out of the conversation.
6. Pick up the phone or meet in person after a number of "email ping-pongs"
It's more productive to talk and sort things out in person or by phone after a number of email exhanges. I suggest talking after 3 email exchanges.
7. Don't send an email addressed to more than one person asking for an action, e.g. "Hello Bob and Ray, Can you call Jill?"
Guess what? No one is going to call Jill! Both parties are going to assume that the other person will do the work.
8. Turn off the automatic email notfication alert that appears on your computer desktop when you receive a new e-mail message, meeting request, or task request. This tends to turn you into "Pavlov's Dog" where you stop what you are doing and open the email. (As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, you spend 6 minutes recovering when changing tasks.) You don't stand in front of your home maibox constantly opening it and checking for mail so don't do it with your computer.
To turn on or off Desktop Alerts, do the following:
1. Click the File tab.
2. Click Options.
3. Click Mail. Under Message arrival, select or clear the Display a Desktop Alert check box
9. Be careful when sending sensitive emails. Never attack others or use sarcasm, etc. Emails can easily get forwarded and reforwarded beyond their intended audience. Don't write it if you don't want it to appear on the cover of the NY Times.
Feel free to share your practical tips for managing email.