Last time, REVStaffing talked about the ways in which we unwittingly allow email to gobble up valuable time throughout the work day. We cited the subtle ways in which this can happen, and discussed the Email Charter as a possible solution to this ever-growing problem.
Today, we're offering the ten components of the Charter for your consideration. We hope you'll read it and share its insights, in the hope that we can help bring the email spiral under control:
Respect your recipients' time: This is the absolute, fundamental rule; think of it every single time you hit your “Compose Mail” button! The onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email will take its recipients to process.
Short or slow is NOT rude: Let's mutually agree to cut each other some slack. Given the email load we're all facing, it's OK if replies take a while coming, and if they don't give detailed responses to all your questions. Don't take short, to-the-point responses personally. We just want our lives back!
Celebrate clarity: Start with a subject line that clearly labels the topic, and consider including a status category [Info], [Action], [Time Sens] [Low Priority]. Use crisp and clear sentences. If the email has to be longer than five sentences, make sure the first sentence provides the basic reason for writing. Avoid weird fonts and colors.
Avoid open-ended questions: It's asking a lot to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of text followed by the word "Thoughts?". Even well-intended-but-open questions like "How can I help?" may not be that helpful. Email generosity requires simple, easy-to-answer questions. "Can I help best by a) calling b) visiting or c) staying out of it?!"
Slash surplus CCs: CCs are like mating bunnies; for every recipient you add, you're dramatically multiplying total response time. When there are multiple recipients, please don't default to 'Reply All'. Maybe you only need to CC a couple of people on the original thread. Or none.
Tighten the thread: Some emails depend on context for their meaning. This means it's usually fine to include the thread to which you're responding. But it's rare that a thread should extend to more than 3 emails. Before sending, cut what's not relevant. Or consider making a phone call instead.
Attack attachments: Don't use graphics files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments. Time is wasted trying to see if there's something to open. Even worse is sending text as an attachment when it could have been included in the body of the email.
Give these gifts liberally: EOM NNTR: If your email message can be expressed in half a dozen words, just put it in the subject line, followed by EOM (End of Message). This saves the recipient having to actually open the message. Ending a note with "No need to respond" (or NNTR) is a wonderful act of generosity. Many acronyms confuse as much as help, but these two are golden and deserve wide adoption.
Cut contentless responses: You don't need to reply to every email, especially not those that are themselves clear responses. An email saying "Thanks for your note. I'm in." does not need you to reply "Great." That just cost someone another 30 seconds.
Disconnect! If we all agreed to spend less time doing email, we'd all get less email! Consider calendaring half-days at work where you can't go online. Or a commitment to email-free weekends. Whatever allows you more time to smell the roses.
Remember: Every hour you spend writing and sending email is consuming more than an hour of the combined attention of your various recipients. Tell us how you're reversing the email spiral – leave us a comment below!
At REVStaffing, our professional virtual assistants value your time as much as their own! Visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RevstaffingVAs. If you're not yet a client, give us a call for a free needs analysis; we'll be happy to discuss your unique needs.
You can bookmark this page to return for updates. If you need assistance in the meantime, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 855-738-7821, extension 703.
© REVStaffing 2011