Written by Carson Tate:
We are all bogged down by the volume of email we receive at work. The amount grows even more daunting because so much of that communication is unclear, ambiguous, and flat out sloppy. Discerning exactly what we need to know or do and determining if a response is needed requires a lot of our attention and focus.
These sloppy emails waste your time. And they cost you hours each week, which means they’re also costing you money. So how do you keep this from occurring?
- Automate responses to unclear messages. When you receive an email message that is unclear, vague or just causes you to say “what?” send a response asking for additional information or clarification. To do this quickly, use a free text expander software app, like Fast Fox for PCs or Text Expander for Mac. A text expander works in any program, including your email platform, and allows you to insert commonly used text with just a keyboard shortcut. No longer will you waste precious time typing out a response, you will reply automatically within seconds.
- Use the subject line to improve response time. Never hit the send button while the subject line of your email reads: RE: RE or FWD: FWD, or some other cryptic phrase that relates to a prior email message. Why? Because when you send an email like this, you’re sending a message with an unclear purpose. Do not be part of creating the email pigsty we have come to expect and accept.
- The subject line of your email message is your topic sentence. It clearly states the topic of the email. A clear subject line is essential if you want to communicate effectively and improve both the quality and response time on the email message you send. Make sure the subject lines on your email messages reflect the current topic, purpose or desired outcome.
When you respond to an email you’ve received, change the subject line to make it current and clear. Consider using some of the standard email subject lines:
Action Required-DATE NRN-No Response Needed
Update: TOPIC EOM- End of message
The last subject line above (EOM) is an especially powerful one. Here’s how it works: when you have a short, simple message to convey, type the entire email in the subject line of the email, and put EOM at the end. (For example, “Tuesday marketing meeting move to 2 p.m. EOM”). Now your recipient does not have to actually open a message, saving them precious time.
- Craft more effective messages. Dramatically reduce the volume of email messages you receive by crafting more effective email messages that are understood upon opening and do not require multiple back and forth emails asking clarifying questions. To craft more effective email messages, answer the following four key questions in every single email you send- who, why, what, and how.
Before you send that next email, ask yourself: will the recipient (s) know what it’s about? If the topic requires action, and/or a deadline, will that be clearly understood? If not, make the appropriate changes before pressing send. Also, change the subject line on the next email you receive to the ost recent topic.
KeySolutions is here to help you be more productive at work. Give us a call to set up an appointment 605-334-5850.