People get toooons of emails each day. And most are checking their emails throughout the day and not managing it like I suggest. They glance at their smart phones to see what it is. If it’s junk, they ignore it, perhaps delete it. If it’s important they’ll scan it quickly. Rarely do people take time to respond or file it away into a proper folder for reference later.
As I discussed in the previous email management post, this quick read triggers a subconscious activation in your mind. Reminding you to reply or make a decision, even if you don’t realize it!
There are times that we simply don’t have time to manage our email inboxes during the day. I think the solution to this need to be informed is by training people to use subject line messages effectively. Here’s an example. You have been working on a project that you need to present to your boss. You’ve been putting in long hours and are nearly finished. You email chimes to alert you to a new message, but you are really in the flow and running out of time. So you glance at your inbox and see the subject line of “Meeting.” Should you stop your productive roll to check it? You might think it’s regarding the meeting that you are preparing for or it could be regarding a meeting for next week. According to FastCompany.com, the average time to get back to a task after being interrupted is 23 minutes 15 seconds.
What if you saw a message that read: “PASS Process Meeting 10am 12/17/15 Agenda.” Then you have a chance to decide to read the email or not. If this is the meeting you are preparing for, you’d probably want to skim the content and make sure your presentation hasn’t been bumped to a new date – or that they made it the first item to be covered. If this meeting isn’t for two weeks, I’d suggest not reading the message at this time. Why waste the mental concentration or time. Be more specific with subject lines – people will appreciate the information.
Another way to make subject lines work for you is to tell the reader what you expect from them. Have you ever sent out an email to a group of ten people and expect their response quickly to be met with one or two responses over the next week? What if you had a specific subject line message along with the acronyms “RR”. RR is short for Reply Required. Of course, not everyone will know what this means, but you can educate them. At the bottom of the email, include a short list of commonly used acronyms and begin using them.
RR – Reply Required/Requested
NRN – No Reply Needed
AR – Action Required
FYI – For Your Information
PFA – Please Find Attachment
Between a more detailed and descriptive subject line and adding instructions for the reader, we can make email communication more effective. I hope these tips make your day more productive!