10 “commandments” of email:

  1. Don’t use your in-box as a catchall folder for everything you need to work on. Read items once, and answer them immediately if necessary, delete them if possible, or move them to project-specific folders.
  2. Set up a “Five Weeks Folder” that deletes its content automatically after five weeks. Use it as a repository for messages you’re unsure about, such as that email you want to delete, but you’re not sure if the guy’s going to call you tomorrow and ask about it.
  3. Assist colleagues’ inbox-filtering efforts by agreeing on acronyms to use in subject lines that quickly identify action items and other important messages. Sample acronyms: < AR> , Action Required; < MSR>, Monthly Status Report.
  4. Send group mail only when it is useful to all recipients. Use “reply-to-all” and “CC:” buttons sparingly.
  5. Ask to be removed from distribution lists that you don’t need to be on.
  6. To cut down on pileup, use the “out-of-office” feature of your email, in addition to your voice mail, to notify people when you are traveling.
  7. When possible, send a message that is only a subject line, so recipients don’t have to open the email to read a single line. End the subject line with < EOM>, the acronym for End of Message.
  8. Graphics and attachments are fun, but they slow down your ability to download messages when you’re on the road. Use them sparingly.
  9. If you’re sending an attachment larger than 5 MB to a large group of recipients, consider putting it on the company’s Web site or intranet instead.
  10. Be specific. If you send a 20-page attachment, tell the recipient that the important information is on pages 2 and 17.
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