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Make every e-mail count

Strip away fluff to save time

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management,Time Management

Every day, 2.2 million e-mails get sent. Many of them never get read.

One of the most overlooked aspects of time management involves e-mail. If you agonize over every line in your message, you may wind up making it harder to read.

Many managers do more than proofread before they hit the “send” button: They insert needless adverbs, adjectives and extraneous facts or opinions that only muddy their main point. The e-mail becomes too long and the reader must work harder to interpret it.

Follow these rules to write clear, crisp e-mails:

Number your points. Rather than write unbroken text, list your questions or comments by number. The benefits are twofold: you’ll convey key thoughts more succinctly and you’ll make it easier for the reader to reply. Never use bullets or caps. They don’t translate well and can confuse or irritate the recipient.

Serve the meat first. Remove the mystery from your e-mail by including all the critical information in your first paragraph. Cut right to the meat, rather than leading in with sidelights. If you want the reader to act, explain that upfront.

Reporting live … it’s me. Write in the active voice. This tightens your writing and lends immediacy. Rather than: “This project is interesting to me because …, ” say, “I like this project because …”

Avoid obligatory replies. Don’t assume you must reply to every e-mail and that the “e-mail trail” must end with you. Let frequent senders know that you won’t acknowledge every e-mail. Limit “thank you” replies precisely to “Thank you.”

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