Stever Robbins has written a great article with tips on managing your email. He makes some good points in here regarding the fact that it’s so easy to send email that we seldom put thought into sending it, which leads to some behaviors that wind up wasting the time of the recipient. He also offers some tips on how to send more effective messages, and how to handle the receipt of lots of email.
Here’s my favorite one on sending:
People scan their inbox by subject. Make your subject rich enough that your readers can decide whether it’s relevant. The best way to do this is to summarize your message in your subject.
Subject: Deadline discussion
Subject: Recommend we ship product April 25th
While I thought most of his tips on sending are spot-on, I disagreed with some of his tips on how to handle received email. Particularly this one:
When someone sends you a ten page missive, reply with three words. “Yup, great idea.” You’ll quickly train people not to expect huge answers from you, and you can then proceed to answer at your leisure in whatever format works best for you.
I hate receiving a response like that. So you liked my idea. Does this mean go ahead and implement it? If the goal is to keep the response brief, instead write, “Yup, great idea. Let’s get together and discuss this on Tuesday.” Then there’s at least a clear next step.