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The Art of the Perfect Email

The year was 1999. The place - your computer. The voice was an unknown Elwood Edwards, a broadcast announcer who landed a gig from AOL to add a voice, "You've Got Mail" when an email would land in your inbox. I remember how exciting those days were! ....Not so anymore.

If someone would ask me today, "What is one of your biggest challenges in business?" you might expect me to say supply chain issues, market changes, inflation, etc. And while all those are true, emails continue to be my number one frustration. There's just so many of them and today, more than ever, people feel the need to cc anyone and everyone who might have the slightest need (or not) to know about the subject.

While some people find checking their emails only a few times a day for scheduled periods a solution, that doesn't work for many of us where the email has replaced the telephone and messages coming in are as urgent as what used to be a real call. But there are some ways to tame the beast.

My favorite is SaneBox. The first thing SaneBox did was filter my junk emails out of my inbox...and allows me to train it which emails I want and don't. The other thing I love about SaneBox is its ability to allow me to tag messages for follow up. I can reply to a message with Monday.10am.@Sanebox and the email will pop back into my inbox that coming Monday. A great way not to forget to follow up on something. It also has a @SaneCC folder which places all emails where you are cc'd into for you to read later in the day.

Beside SaneBox, there are some other simple rules to emailing that help -

*Try to fit what you need in the subject line of the email - one CEO I know told me that he informed his staff if it doesn't fit in the subject line don't send it to him.

*Use bullet points to make the email easier to read and consider double spacing.

*Keep emails short and precise. If you have a problem, state it and offer the solution that you feel works (the old adage bring me solutions not problems.)

*Make sure to clean out your inbox weekly. Once it becomes stuffed with emails, the chore (like many of our junk drawers or closets) becomes overwhelming. Sort emails by name or subject and delete or file away those no longer needed.

*And finally, the obvious. Don't respond to an email when you are emotional - that only leads to regrets. Proof read emails and addresses to make sure you have the correct recipients. DO use a signature block. Be cautious with humor - it doesn't always come across the way you mean it. And never, ever, put anything in writing you don't want others to see.

We will all live a happier life having emails under control. Do your best to have good email etiquette and you will make friends where ever you go.

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