Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
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Gary Audin | September 14, 2011 |


Controlling the E-Mail Storm

Controlling the E-Mail Storm We can all help each other to be more productive and less annoyed and stressed if we think before we e-mail.

We can all help each other to be more productive and less annoyed and stressed if we think before we e-mail.

Receiving e-mails is part of today's environment, but it can be a waste of time in many cases. E-mail distractions reduce productivity. It is not common that e-mail senders think about the interruption to the e-mail receiver. If they did, fewer e-mails would be sent.

Replying to an e-mail usually takes more time than the time it took to create the e-mail. Reading an e-mail means you have to scan the in-box. Then, you decide to read or discard it. Next, the e-mail is opened and the reader waits for the download. The reader has to think about and possibly compose a response. Then it takes a few moments to return to the work thread that was interrupted by the receipt of the e-mail.

We are in the world of e-mail overload. The number of clients, vendors and other businesses that send me e-mails grows daily. If I don't provide my e-mail address when I research on the Internet, then I do not receive the material I want. I also receive e-mails that are unnecessary from clients. The clients could batch comments together instead of impulsively sending multiple short e-mails.

There are times I delay a response because I do not have the time at that moment. The delay causes problems because the e-mail that needs a response goes way down on the list in my in-box and can be easily forgotten.

An article, "We Have to Fix E-Mail," by David Pogue of the New York Times, goes into the e-mail l problem in depth. Pogue provides a link to another article, "10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral". In total, the two articles provide 15 recommendations that would can reduce the e-mail burden.

The Email Charter article’s first recommendation is the most important:

1. The sender needs to respect the e-mail receiver’s time.
2. Clarity and brevity are essential. I have e-mails where the writer never uses the shift key and does not use punctuation. It includes run-on sentences. Reading this e-mail takes more time to decipher the message.
3. Be patient. With all the e-mails received, do not expect an instant reply.
4. Limit, reduce, avoid using CCs.
5. Do not use logos or other graphics as attachments that are really only pretty signatures. When I receive these, I open them only to discover they have no value in the message I am receiving. A waste of my time.

The CHARTER article provides five more recommendations, and the Pogue article adds five further recommendations to the list. Some of my clients have a long legal paragraph at the end of each e-mail. Pogue calls this legal vomit. It takes time to read these. I eventually learn to ignore the legal vomit, but every so often I read it to ensure that nothing has changed. A waste of my time.

One of Pogue's peeves is the Mailblock. This is when the sender blocks any mail from the receiver so that the receiver can not reply. The Mailblock is not discovered until after the e-mail reply is written and sent, producing another e-mail to read, another waste of time.

One of my favorite e-mail replies is using the subject line to carry the entire response. This saves me time as well as the receiver.

We can all help each other to be more productive and less annoyed and stressed if we think before we e-mail.


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