Share content with your friends and fans!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

TechnoGrannyShow, 7-27-09, E-Mail, Control the Clutter

Is your e-mail making you crazy? Is it just one more thing in your long line of to do lists that never gets caught up? Do you worry that you have ignored a really important invitation or some wonderful You-Tube video from your cousin Lacretia of your Aunt
Vicki playing the harmonica? I just did exactly that. I am so overwhelmed with e-mails from organizations that I belong to and Linked In and twitter followers and radio fans that when I have someone who consistently sends me just silly things that I would love to read but haven’t the time for.

Increasingly e-mail has become a business necessity and is used for myriad communications: updates on projects, business conference calls, confirming appointments and requests for business information.

Well don’t feel bad if you have just had a family faux pas like I did with Aunt Vicki’s harmonica. I had just gotten so overwhelmed that I began deleting thins that looked unimportant and I am usually especially wary of videos. I rarely watch them. They require opening and there has been so much hype about viruses in them. So I missed a precious family moment because I just started deleting things that was not apparently about an urgent family matter or was not business. Bad move! Just went to family reunion, heard my aunt, you guessed it, playing the harmonica. I commented that I never knew that she played and one of our cousins piped up accusingly, “Well I sent you a video!” Yikes. So you are not alone in worrying about deleting those unread e-mails without opening them.

Some things to remember:

E-mail addictive and time stealing. So set a certain time limit on e-mail reading and usage and stick to it. If you have 30, 60 or 90 minutes, make the best use of your time. Set a time or schedule other important activities, if they are on your calendar with timer alerts then you will have to leave the e-mail or suffer the consequences of getting behind in other projects. Remember E-mail Expands to fill time available so set a realistic amount of time and remember when you are adding something to your schedule, you probably have to reduce the time spent elsewhere or take something off your schedule.
Stick to your e-mail time limit, if you let it, it can consume your day and make your day unproductive.

Delete messages that are no longer relevant especially if they are three months old or older, probably no one cares at this point that you did not read them and they are no longer relevant anyway so reading them would be a waste of time. To help with this,
put e-mails into “To read” folders. These are folders that require nothing other than to read them. Add a date stamp on these folders, like September, 08 or July 09. If in six to twelve months you haven’t read them, do you think it’s safe to assume that you no longer need or want to? Schedule 30 minutes each week to purge everything you can and then you will see how uncluttered your e-mal will soon become.

Use different e-mail addresses for various things. I have one that I use for business, one for each of my radio shows that all are forwarded to my business e-mail. I also have one for family and friends and things that I subscribe to and I have another just for newsletters that I may go to for inspiration.

E-Mail Musts for organization, respect from others and to others.

1. Be sure to fill in the subject line with a concise descrition andyes ther are sometimes ongoing discussions that will e-mail track the discussion but each time you add something be sure to differentiate it in the subject line. For instance if you are giving a Project update, please add the name of project. Then if the response adds a clarification, Please marke it, Marketing Project Update, Clarification and continue this on as the e-mail dialogue may have several responses. You will appreciate this subject line clarification later when you have to search for the e-mail with answers and your recipient will appreciate it also. This will also help yout to get a quick reply and keep your e-mail from delted. Even though I sometimes make this error myself, I almost always feel like deleting an e-mail that has “no subject” in the title. If I know the sender I am careful not to do that as everyone slips up now and then, but to make it easier to find, I will forward it with appropriate title to myself and the sender.
2. There is nothing more frustrating than getting an e-mail that says, “yes” and since you sent out forty the day before, you have no idea what the respondent is saying “yes” to, especially if there server does not re-send all replies and previous copy and some do not. So cut and paste the part of the message you are responding to and it is also a good idea to make it a different color from the senders e-mail so that they can quickly differentiate your reply. This will save both of you time and energy.
3. Please check your spelling and grammar and what you have written before you send the e-mail, this helps prevent embarrassments, misunderstanding and miscommunications. It also makes you look more professional and readers will take your messages more seriously. Also if you are sending an attachment, check before you send to make sure attachment is there.
4. Virus detection is not just a must to protect your computer but also a must to avoid sending viruses to others. NOTHING more embarrassing than having to apologize for sending a virus or worm to someone, if you get the chance to apologize.
5. Long winded e-mails are not polite or stylish. If you must give a good deal of information, add an attachment or at least bullet point the information so that your reader will find it easier to manage. Always avoid ranting, negative posts and stay on the topic and be brief as much as possible. One topic per e-mail is always a good idea.
6. Carefully target those you are sending an e-mail to, Reply All is not always a good option unless you have considered all the recipients first. Also remember, if you don’t want an e-mail to get into other hands, then don’t send it. Sometimes even marking it private does not help. If it is negative about someone else, there is an irrefutable copy of what you said. OOPS!
7. Never reply to an e-mail when you are angry. A wuick response is never a good one. A good rule of themb is to wait for 24 hours and then reply when you are calmer or how about making a phone call when possible?
8. Always include an e-mail signature with your address and phone number, reply e-mail and any other information you think is helpful, like your twitter, linked in and Facebook information. This will help your readers to know who you are and establish your credibility.
9. Be careful of attachments. Make sure it is something that your reader will want and also make sure it is virus free. In my observation readers do not like to open attachments, it’s an additional step so if you want your e-mail read unless it is lengthy put the gist of it at least into the body of the e-mail, then you can add the lengthy attachment with a note for them to peruse if they still need additional information or add a website address which is often even better.
10. Always consider what your reader will think when they get your e-mail. Is it clear, is it polite, is it consise, is it professional and especially how would you feel or what would you think if you received it?

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:
© Joanne Quinn-Smith, Techno Granny Show™ 2009,
Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15230, 412-628-5048
Listen at:
Or on its unique radio channel at:
Joanne Quinn-Smith is the Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and an expert on Web 2.0 Branding.
2009 SBA Small Business Journalist of the Year

No comments: