Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) Certified
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Spotlight on Productivity:
How to Overcome E-mail Overload
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by e-mail? Have you ever spent more of
your day wading through your e-mail than managing your work? Are you
looking for ways to spend less time creating, managing and answering
messages? Discover how to overcome e-mail overload and be more
productive by writing more effective e-mail messages and reducing
the volume of e-mail.
Start improving your e-mail effectiveness by
creating and formatting easy to follow content, and by using pre‑written
Create Clear Content
Consider these strategies to upgrade your
communications with understandable, e-mail messages:
Help others prioritize how to act on your
e-mail by including a clear, specific subject line and repeating
important subject information in the body of the message.
Define your expectations in the body of the
message. Do you want your recipients to act, respond, read, or is
the e-mail FYI only?
Include only one topic per message. If that
isn't possible, then describe and number multiple topics as in 5
items to add to the Wednesday meeting agenda.
When you type the addresses for your
message, check who is getting your e-mail. Many programs attempt to
auto-fill an e-mail address which may not be your intended
Be careful with your tone and language. As
with any other communication, match the message to your audience.
Unless the reader understands your dry sense of humor, for instance,
they may be confused or offended rather than amused.
It may be tempting to use acronyms in the
world of the Blackberry and IM (instant messaging), but only use
extremely common abbreviations, such as FYI or ASAP, unless you are
absolutely certain that the individual receiving your e-mail knows
what they mean.
Clearly identify yourself to strangers
within your message and in the message signature.
Format Readable E-mail Messages
Simplify the e-mail messages you send with clean,
Get to the point. Shorten paragraphs to no
more than five or six lines to reduce reading.
Limit e-mail text to a single printed page.
If you have more text, reduce the message or consider attaching a
Word document. Delete previous responses that are no longer relevant
to the current exchange.
Use fonts between 10 and 12 points in size
except for headlines and choose a font style that is easy to read.
Apply colors sparingly.
Add blank lines and white space to separate
paragraphs and areas of detail.
Run the spelling checker and re-read
messages one last time for clarity and grammar before clicking
Use Prewritten Responses
If you send a few basic messages over and over
again, such as a reply to a request for product information, consider
saving those responses as signatures that can be inserted into e-mail so
that you don't have to retype them.
For a majority of messages, create a default
signature that includes your full name, position or title, phone,
website, and other contact information.
>>More Software Tips & Tricks for You
Some of the top ways to cut the amount of e-mail
you receive is to manage the number of messages that you send, actively
reduce unnecessary follow-up replies, and determine when
person-to-person communication is a better choice.
Decrease the Number of Messages You Send
Before you write your next e-mail, seek to actively
reduce how much e-mail you send:
Read all replies on a topic before
responding to the original message. Resist getting involved with
e-mail threads that don't impact your objectives.
Don’t send, and discourage your staff from
sending, "chime-in" messages that are simply unimportant responses
such as "Thank you" and "You're welcome." Don't respond to junk
Avoid Reply to All unless all
recipients need to see your response. Otherwise you are contributing
to their e-mail litter.
Use the Cc (carbon copy) line only when the
topic impacts the recipient's work. Although it may seem easier to
send a message to everyone in a department or your organization,
first ask yourself, "Who needs to know? Why?" Most people who get a
carbon copy assume there is something they are supposed to do.
Use Bcc (blind carbon copy) to hide large
distribution lists or to disguise the names of select recipients.
All recipients can respond to a message but replies will not be
received by anyone in the Bcc list which reduces the amount of
e-mail they get.
Eliminate the Clutter in Your E-mail
In addition to initiating fewer e-mail messages,
look at other ways to reduce the messages in your Inbox:
Publish frequently requested information on
your organization website and make sure that the website is quickly
updated when changes occur.
When you are sending out informational
messages that do not require feedback, discourage unnecessary
responses by using formal language and begin and end messages with
No Reply Needed or FYI Only.
Unsubscribe to electronic newsletters that
you don’t read and move others out of your Inbox to folders for
reading during travel or other down times. Don't unsubscribe to
mailings that you never initiated or you may further open the flow
of junk mail.
If it's an available option, setup an out
of office message that responds to incoming messages when you are
not available to answer your e-mail. Clearly state your response
time, when you will return, and who can be contacted during your
Choose Voice Instead of E-mail
There are often times when phone or face-to-face
conversations are a superior choice to e‑mail. Pick up the phone or
arrange a meeting when:
Building rapport is critical.
The topic is emotionally charged.
There are many intertwined issues to
resolve or there is a need for lengthy interactive discussions.
Implementing these strategies
for overcoming e-mail overload can help you become more productive and
free you from your Inbox.
Note: this article has been published as a
multiple-page magazine feature but is also available as a multi-part
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
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Don't send "chime-in" messages that
are simply unimportant responses such as "Thank you" and "You're
welcome." Don't respond to junk mail.
|Use Bcc (blind
carbon copy) in e-mail messages to hide large distribution lists or
to disguise the names of select recipients. All recipients can
respond to a message but replies will not be received by anyone in
the Bcc list which reduces the amount of e-mail they get.