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eMail

- Don't.check.mail.every.5.minutes
(2 or 3 times a day usually better)

- Create templates if you create similar emails often (AutoHotkey)

- Add attachments FIRST

- KISS- Keep it simple and smart

E-mail help and tips

"E-mail predates the inception of the Internet, and was in fact a crucial tool in creating the Internet."
- Wikipedia

General tips for more efficient e-mail

- Don't.check.mail.every.few.minutes (2 or 3 times a day usually better)
- Organize your mail in folders
- Create templates if you create similar emails often
- Empty your inbox every day (delete or move to folders)
- Learn to use your eMail tool effectively (shortcuts, scripts, searching, tips etc)

Sending business e-mail

Keep it simple and smart: Executive summary in the beginning, with additional details later for those interested

Actions: If several people receive the email and you want different actions, summarize what you expect from each person:
"Bill: check the attached presentation and give feedback if it needs changes
Jane: verify the budget and reply if any numbers are wrong"

Tools: Consider using other tools than e-mail like IM, Twitter, a blog or wiki instead of sending an e-mail (to reduce e-mail overload[1])

Proof read
- the more people you send the email to, the more time is wasted with grammatical, vocabulary and appropriate usage errors
- check if any attachments are included

Use the email subject effectively:

[EOM] End Of Message means empty body (alt. [END])
"[EOM] bring latest report to staff meeting"
[Y/N] Want a simple, quick answer
"[Y/N] Staff meeting at room 2 ?" (with optional [EOM] at end of subject)
[DO] Action required by you
[FYI] For information only - no reply/action required
[R 3] Reply wanted within 3 days
("R 1" is today, "R 0" is urgent)
- [MEETING 08112210] Unique ID for each meeting also means that all correspondance regarding meeting can be sorted (YYMMDDHH)
(if two meetings are scheduled at the same day and same time, they will get the same ID)


By using these at the beginning of the subject you can sort by subject and you'll quickly see the importance/type of message. Another benefit if you establish some internal standards in your company, is that you'll be able to sort through the internal, important e-mail first, and then work with external e-mail and spam afterwards.

Add attachments FIRST
- how often do you send email where you refer to the included attachment, and then get a reply asking for the missing attachment ?
- make sure you add any attachments first, before writing the text (or the moment you realize you need to include something)

Who should receive your email ?

- To: the actual main recipient(s) who should read and/or answer/action
- Cc: usually the interested parties who are in the FYI category - need to know, but not respond
- Bcc: your manager, or someone who wants it for reference (but not necessarily reads it)


People get too many emails - by establishing a standard use for To, Cc and Bcc, you could quickly see that you're in the Bcc category, and therefore not read it unless the subject indicates otherwise.

Receiving e-mail

- enable autopreview to avoid opening the e-mail while browsing the inbox
- depending on your application, you may color-code important people (or important subjects like [DO] and [Y/N] - notice how easy they are to spot)

Folders (for Outlook and similar applications)
- @Action - action required from you or someone else
- @Reference - information you may need later

The @ will make them appear at the top of your folders (in Outlook - in some applications you may use " - " instead). Clean your inbox by reading, replying, deleting or moving the emails to the correct folders.

When checking your e-mail, you either respond immediately, delete it, or move it to @Action or @Reference.

Tip: When you move it, edit the subject line at the same time
- insert a number in front to prioritize it (sort by subject)
- add a comment on what to do (if the subject was "meeting" you could edit it to "2-meeting (prepare budget presentation)"

Later on, you may want to organize further, for example:
- @Action : ToDo, FollowUp, WaitingFor, ToRead
- @Reference: Important, Old, Work, Personal

Spam
- general spam should be stopped BEFORE you get it ! If not, contact your IT department or ISP, or install a spam filter in your e-mail application.
- "self-spam" should be stopped be ending all subscriptions you don't need. A weekly (or daily) e-mail from a newssite may not be necessary ?

Create a personal process for emptying the inbox:
- if people use [] in the subject line:
    - sort by subject first
    - quickly preview by subject ( [Y/N], [EOM] etc) first, then the OTHER e-mails
- sort by sender to prioritize people you work with or know first

- for each mail [2]
    - delete spam and unnecessary e-mail immediately
    - if it is a quick answer (less than 2 minutes), do it now
    - if it is someone else's responsibility, delegate it to them !
    - if you need to do some action (more than 2 minutes), defer it to the @action folder
      - edit the subject if possible
      - change "budget" to "budget (update excel-sheet for this month)" (To-Do)
      - change "budget" to "wed:budget" if you need to do it on/by wednesday
      - change "budget" to "2-budget" if you need to prioritize your actions

    - move the rest "nice to have" e-mails to the @reference folder
    - the do and delegate e-mails may be moved to the @reference folder also if you need a copy
        - you may edit their subject with a short summary
            - change "budget" to "budget (delegated John)"
            - change "budget" to "budget (updated excel-sheet)" if you need a summary
    - when you inbox is empty, go to the @action folder and process as many as possible (and move to @reference when finished)


Links (various interesting opinions):
[1] - E-Mail Reply to All: 'Leave Me Alone'
[2] - Getting things done

About

My name is Atle Iversen, and I'm the founder of PpcSoft (read more).

Contact me at atle.iversen@ppcsoft.com

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