Making Emails More Effective

“I do not read attachments if you do not respect my time by
summarizing it in the body.”  See  This was a
recent Dilbert cartoon.  I have not gone
to that length but the idea made me pause. 
Who are the people who send you good emails and make it easy for you to
sort the important, urgent, information only, cute and junk?       

Another frustrating habit I have is not using the subject
line to indicate the content of the email. 
Often a conversation takes place and the subject is the original email
and has nothing to do with the current subject. 
Carefully editing the subject line can be of real benefit to the
recipient.   In order to make a message
stick, I must always consider what the core of 
my message. 

I once proposed that we start a protocol on the subject line
that indicated if the email required action or was simply for information.  Also similarly the subject line should
indicate the degree of urgency.  Neither
of these suggestions stuck.

I think poor email protocols really are making time
management difficult.  We are besieged by
so many emails these days, a good subject line would be a great help.  I think we also need more categories of email,
more than inbox or junk.


I would love to hear about what others are doing to make
email communications more effective.

  1. Peter Holden Reply

    I have, for many years used a set of rules in Outlook (or more recently, Thunderbird). There are a few key people whose e-mails I always want to read – bosses, key client contacts, my wife.
    For them I have a rule which moves the email to specific directories which I review frequently.
    “c.c.’s” get automatically routed to a specific folder because they rarely require action. I can then review them at my leisure.
    Major projects have a folder and identifiable e-mail (by subject line) gets routed there. Information sources e.g. news or professional updates get routed to one or more folders for review when time permits.
    Sources of junk e-mail get blocked.
    The net result is that I am usually able to cut upwards of 90% of e-mail arriving in my general in-box and am less likely to miss important stuff.
    The order of rules requires some thought so as, for example, to eliminate junk rather than inadvertently routing it to a project folder.

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