Covid19: How to tame your email?

I came across a fascinating write up on HBR wherein they spoke about “taming” your email. They outlined a “CRM principle” which, in pure marketing terms, a complete nonsense. You can spin the nonsense in any which way you want.

All standards compliant emails now offer ability to make “rules”. These rules can apply to senders or subject headings and combination thereof. I have always rallied for using aliases to separate your work versus life accounts.As such, while I get huge volume of email, only the necessary bits strike my inbox. Almost everything else get labelled, neatly filed in folders or moved to trash.

However, not everything in the write up is trash. There are some key takeaways.

Noting action requests in the subject line with open and closed brackets can help readers to prioritize the message.  For example, “Subject: [Response requested by end of day] re: Status of mask delivery.” Once teams are familiar with a common language they can shift to shorthand (e.g., AR = action requested, or EOD = end of day).

When you’re copied onto a chain, rather than spend time reading long threads to reconstruct the narrative simply ask for clarification: “Sorry, long email sent, can you please clarify why I’m added now and how I can help?”

I still have to encounter a system where the entire communication threads happen on email. Even in large departments or corporate set up, users end up forgetting basic rules and push for inline replies or worse still, forwards. I get a lot of spam in my inbox (usually top down communication) but by intelligently routing it, I keep an inbox zero nirvana.

Likewise, snoozing emails when they can done (requiring a call for action) or for reminders with linked calendar entries helps to sort out workflow.

I use and recommend Fastmail for a reason.

Emails are terrible resource to move work; I prefer Telegram as a chat platform.