110 e-mails per day – skills and toolsets
Let us focus onto e-mail. Do you know, that the average user has send 36 and received 74 e-mails per day in 2010 ? That are 110 e-mails per day. How often are you calling someone per phone on a regular day? It seams to be a good idea, to review our e-mail skills to save some extra time, right?
We start with some basic rules for writing e-mails. Next we focus on optimising your daily e-mail workflow with tips and a list of helpfull e-mail client extensions, that will help you to make your daily e-mail work faster.
The following basic rules make reading your e-mails enjoyable and thereby may impress your vice-versa, since e-mail netiquette is still not common:
1. Keep it as precise, concrete and short as possible: Your e-mail will be read as one of tens. If the reader can clarify your demand in a short time he can keep your message in mind and may even respond directly. Thereby write as simple, short and direct as possible.
2. Avoid excessive introduction and summary: The receipient should focus onto your request, not onto formal. You may even want to use e-mail templates for this parts (tools like ReplyMate for Outlook, or ?? for Thunderbird will help). E-mail templates helps avoiding misspellings and save time.
3. Proper spelling, grammar & punctuation: All current e-mail clients integrate spelling checkers. Use them! A misspelling or wrong grammar makes focusing on the message of your e-mail more difficult. Additionally it leafes a bad impression at the reader.
4. Choose a propper subject: The e-mails subject is most important. Respect the time of the receipient and yourself by choosing a clear subject , that gives an overview of its content and the expected latest response date (when necessary). A clear Subject makes finding an past e-mail much easier. Since a lot of people nowadays still use there base folder for all emails it even helps them handling their e-mails. If you have misplanned and you are in the rare situation to depend on an urgent reply you may mark your subject even as important.
5. Reply: Keep the message history attached, reduce receipients: When replying to a received message keep the request message. You enable the receipient to get a fast overview of the history of the task.
Rethink the receipients in case of several receipients. You may remove some of the cc: entries, to reduce their disturbance. Why are they receiving a copy of this e-mail?
6. Proper use of Bcc: When you attache several receipients on the cc or to field list you publish their e-mail adresses to them all. Regarding privacy consernes you may want to place them in the bcc list. In that case they wont get access to others e-mail adresses.
7. Read and if necessary rewrite your e-mail before sending: Revise your text as often as necessary. Shorten whenever possible without reducing sence. Ask yourself questions as: “Is the context clarified and precise?” “Is the question or task clearly understandable for the receipient?”, “Is a deadline and the goal defined for a task?”, “Is all information necessary for the receipient included?”, “Is the structure of the message adequate for reading?” If you can achnowledge all these question, you have good chances, that the recepient won’t interrupt you until he solved the request.
One additional tip: If your mail client alerts you via an acoustic signal when a new (regularly spam mail) arrives at your desk. Switch this alerting of – it takes you too much concentration!
Next let us focus onto optimising your daily e-mail workflow with a list of helpfull e-mail client extensions. I guess you are using Mozilla Thunderbird, Outlook, or similair tools as e-mail clients? If not get them. They save you a lot time regarding log-in process, searching for special mails, and enable you using wonderfull plugins like the ones listed below. Attention, if you are using several computers you want to do the following steps:
- Exclude log-in password (dont let it be managed by the password agent to prevent someone else access your mail-box)
- Leave Mails on the Server, so you can access them from any computer and have a backup included
- Include all your mail-boxes: safes you a lot of time waiting on loading web pages and prevents you from consuming commercials.
Now lets focus some marveles plugins boosting your performance – sorry just for Thunderbird, but for shure similiars are as well available for Outlook and co.:
- Lightning + Provider for Google Calendar (in case you use it): Manage your appointments easily from within thunderbird no additional program required. A marveles solution, which interacts with Google.
- Quicktext: Getting Board of writing e-mail headers and footer manually and with misspellings? This is your solution. Generate as much different templates and select them via shortcuts or even words (+tab) and focus on the relevant parts -> the message.
- Dictionaries + Dictionary Switcher: Never write again a misspelled e-mail. Let it check while writing and switch on the fly languages.
- Tag-Toolbar: Tagging your e-mails gives you extra category dimension – who to write a thank you mail, who is relevant for …, which priority?
- Thunderbrowse: I hated waiting for Firefox loading when clicking links in e-mails until I found this plugin. Now navigate through the webpages even within thunderbird.
- ImportExportTools: What you guess? Right makes you life easy while backing up.
- Selma: I never become familiar sending SMS on mobiles -> it always takes me a coffeybreak to finish one. With this plugin its just a breath for half the price since you can select between a huge selection of providers.
Something to add? Give this tools a try and leave us a note which (did not) worked for you. Or suggest some additional plugins!