Yup, here I am yet again ranting about email productivity, or lack thererof!
I’m reading this great book about email entitled The Hamster Revolution. Though I’ve studied this subject a lot, I like the creative approach to explaining what email overload can do to us – it can turn us all into tiny hamsters running on a hamster wheel 7 days a week trying to keep up.
The book really brings home two keys to managing email before it manages you.
- Reduce Email Volume
- Improve Email Quality
The authors explain three key questions to ask yourself as you work on reducing email volume. The idea being that if you send less email you will receive less email.
- Is Your Email Needed? Does my busy recipient truly need this email to do his or her job? “Send we-mail instead of me-mail“, the authors suggest. Don’t you love it!
- Is Email the Appropriate Communication Tool? Email is company property and is stored forever and can be reviewed or forwarded at anytime anywhere.
- Is Your Message Targeted? Is your message being sent to the right people in the right way? Decrease your use of Reply All, CC and Distribution Lists.
Improving email quality has two components. Write really good subject lines and sculpt the body of the message.
- Good subject lines are absolutely crucial to clear, easy and quick communication via email. The book suggests putting 1 of 5 action words in every subject line: Action, Info, Request, Confirmed, and Delivery. And then writing a good descriptive title describing the project or using specific dates, times & places when referring to the topic at hand.
- The authors suggest sculpting the body of your email using a method called A-B-C. A if for Action Summary, then B for Background and finally C for Close. The Action Summary is a sentence that describes a specific action, purpose or key point. The Background is the body of your message. Try using bullet points, numbering and keep it short and to the point. The Close is the place to include a nice comment, describe next steps, and include your automatic signature.
These are all concepts that I teach in each and every Take Control of Email workshop I do and in my Email Organizing Basics on-line web session. However, clarifying them in this way seems to make the concepts easier to remember. Thanks Hamster Guys!