Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One Topic Per Message - Part 4 in a Series

Email-me-buttonImage via Wikipedia
How are you all doing with the first two steps in gaining control of your email?  Are you subject lines working more efficiently for you?  Did you turn off your automatic notifications and begin controlling the times you view your email?  I personally found the second day of focusing on my subject lines easier than the first.  I've even had some of those I've emailed respond with ideas for "pet peeves" for me to address!  I'm very appreciative of that and will absolutely do that!

So, we have started with two steps:
  1. For the next 30 days, write a great subject line
  2. For the next 29 days, turn Off Your Automatic Notification
Today's step is one that will likely be fairly easy to put into practice.

For the next 28 days, if your emails require an action or response, say so in the subject line and preferably as the first word (s).

Help out the recipient of your email by letting them know immediately if you need to receive something back from then.  For administrators, this may mean using the words Action Required to let teachers, faculty, and staff know that they need to do something.  For example, an administrator may write a subject line like this:

Action Required:  Turn in your Faculty Survey by May 15th

The administrator in this case has done two things:  1) Let the recipient know the details of what must be completed, and 2) increased the likelihood that the email will capture the recipient's attention because of the clear meaning of Action Required.  The average email recipient scans the subject lines so this will stand out clearly as an important indicator!  I know if I get this email, I'm putting it on a top priority list.

In the same manner, the following words may be used to indicate to the reader what you need from them regarding the email:
  • Response Requested - Clearly, the recipient knows that you are wanting to receive a response to the email that is contained in the body of the message.
  • Urgent - Don't overuse this one, however, if something is truly urgent, this subject indicator lets the recipient know that they really need to read the contents.  However, DO NOT put just the word Urgent in the subject line.   Continue to write a summary of the message that is being sent by writing a great subject line following it. 
  • FYI - You are telling your reader that this is information they need but they may read it at a convenient time.  You are not looking for a response with this one necessarily so the reader knows they do not need to reply.  If we are hoping to control our email, then lessoning responses required is a huge step in that process and will serve a valuable purpose towards that end.
  • Invitation - This indicates that there is some timeliness to this message. There is likely a meeting or social event that requires an acceptance or rejection of the invitation.  For me, I'll use Response Requested for this but, dependent on the situation, Invitation may me just the right word to begin the subject line.
So, there you have the next step in the process.  I'll be sharing with my colleagues my next step in email protocol so they are aware of the subject indicator I am using!

I should share that I received another message back from a coworker that was a subject-line message only and ended with (EOM).  I've not received two since I started implementing these steps towards gaining control of my email.  I see that as progress!

How are you doing with your steps towards gaining email control?  Take a moment and let me know!  I'd love to hear from you!

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