Monday, December 19, 2011

Reducing the eMail Firehose

In a recent discussion with a colleague he recommended that I read the book “The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your Email Before It Manages You”. This book has a humorous approach to explaining what we all know but are not able to do much about: eMail is wasting not hours but weeks of each of our productivity time per year. The techniques in this book seem logical so I am going to use them in 2012.

As such you will see the following changes in the email you receive from me:
  • the subject line will be formatted in this way:
    ACTION: descriptive subject (-eom)
    • ACTION will be one of:
      • ACTION
      • INFO
      • REQUEST
      • CONFIRMED – I have completed the subject action
      • DELIVERY – this email contains a response to a request you have made
    • The subject will be descriptive of the contents and never blank
    • If “-eom” is included then the complete intelligence of the email is in the subject and you don’t need to open the email. Just read the subject line.
  • The body will normally have 4 sections (this may take a while to work into):
    • Brief greeting
    • ACTION: context, specific action, purpose and response time
    • BACKGROUND: clear, concise and relevant background.
    • CLOSE: next steps, signature block
Additionally, I’ll reduce the number of “thank you” email. If sent it will more than likely be just a brief note with “-eom” in the subject line. If your email does not require a reply then it’s more likely that there won’t be a reply at all ... thereby reducing the amount of email you receive. Know that I appreciate each value-added email received.

This information will be revised as the new method develops.  Check back here if you have any questions  OR send me a “REQUEST:”  email.   

We would all benefit if each of us applied some simple email structure to this important communication tool. 
I highly recommend that you read “The Hamster Revolution …” and consider it for your own email process.