Tuesday, October 21, 2008

email - keep it short

On any given morning I receive quite a number of emails that, on the face of it, require some attention.

I prefer to actually get on with doing my day job as opposed to attending to an email inbox as my boss appears to want me to actually achieve certain things for the business rather than simply work in a glorified mail room - the inbox. Luis Suarez is a good example in that he has actively stopped (that can not be good grammar) reading his email - I don't believe that course of action is likely to work for me just yet.

I keep my "email time" to a minimum using a few tricks such as using Notes to highlight mail sent to me only and colour coding mail that comes from customers or management. This works pretty well.

One of the biggest factors on how much value an email has is the content - and how it is written.

One of my management team tends to analyse things for a while and send out the odd blockbuster email which starts of with a paragraph of "scene setting" for the rest of his email which will be the equivalent content to a couple of sides of paper. When I was unaware of a request he had made he stated it was in an email - which I then retrieved from an archive. After reading the email I told him that the first paragraph contained no real information and that having reached the end of it I had archived the email (luckily I hadn't deleted it) and missed the pertinent content.

Some longer emails, such as the one mentioned above, need to be written in the form of a news story with Title, Synopsis and then Detail (or something to that effect) where the synopsis gives me the pertinent detail pretty early on in the narrative.
Shorter email should be no more that a short paragraph.
Preferably email should be as short as a Status update in Twitter or Facebook.

You could, of course, just use the phone.

You will be pleased to know that the colleague concerned and I came to an arrangement - he writes his email as normal and I read them - he is after all a manager.

On a similar note - IBM are noting the same things here

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