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#217: Email Management

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
What tips can you provide about making email less of a burden?

I assume you were referring to how you could do something to reduce the burden of email on you. However, reducing the volume and increasing the effectiveness of email starts with your own good practices:
  • As above, use "Reply All" sparingly. You should be able to delete many of the addresses of the email you received with multiple recipients by focusing on only those who really need to hear what you have to say
  • Put only those addresses from whom you want a reply in the "To" field; all others, and only if they need the information, should go in the "Cc" field
  • Do not use the "Bcc" field when forwarding any information, for ethical reasons. You can use the blind copy when the information you are sending is yours, but not that of others.
  • Stop a chain email when you no longer are adding to the conversation. Getting emails with a single line of "I agree" is frustrating.
  • Use alternative tools instead of email. Instead of sending dozens of serial emails to find a time to hold a conference call, use n application like Doodle.
  • Keep your email folders lean by saving documents and not using your inbox to store hundreds (thousands?) of emails you have read and are waiting to attend to later. This slows down your computer and risks corruption of your email files that may lose your emails.
  • Use your folders and filters to segment emails as they arrive. For example, you can route all emails addressed just to you in one folder, all emails from specific people in another, and all those from people not in your address book in another. This allows you to monitor only those messages you expect to be more/most important.
  • Finally, even though there are many more practices, one way to avoid the dreaded desire to recall an email you weren't ready to send is to always put the recipient's email in the "To:" field only after you have finished and proofed the email.
Tip: Spread the word. Write up these practices and place them by your monitor - and use them. Send them to your contacts and ask them to participate in a more efficient email community.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  collaboration  communication  ethics  practice management 

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Comments on this post...

Mary Adams CMC says...
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Mark-

I would like to add the concept of threads.

There are often multiple emails in a single conversation thread. Ideally, the thread is reflected in the subject line. Google's email service actually aggregates all the emails in a single thread together which can make it really easy to read.

However, if someone introduces a new topic, ("oh by the way...") it can get lost in the thread. (You can still find it by searching the content--another reason why I like the gmail platform).

If you want to introduce a new topic in a conversation, just say "I have another topic to bring up and I'll start a new email thread." In the long run, your communication will be much clearer.
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