Monday, December 23, 2013

The Three Best Things I Heard This Year...About E-mail

Here are three good things I heard about e-mail this year, in order:

(3) Keep them short.  People are inundated with e-mails of so many stripes, shapes, varieties, flavors, and colors. Really long e-mails that look intimidating may never be read, or responded to.  Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this one when I really get *in the zone* but I know it's good advice.

(2) OHIO Principle.  It was love at first sight for me when I heard about this one.  OHIO here is an acronym for "Only Handle It Once."  It applies phenomenally well to inbox maintenance but is also an awesome principle to remember for cleanliness of your home, car, apartment, etc.  With respect to e-mails, the problem many people have (including me) is that we give our inbox a quick-look and we pick the low-hanging fruit first.  THEN we notice the actually important stuff, and lamely say something like, "I'll get to those later."  And we all know what happens then.  OHIO -- live it, love it.

(1) A primary purpose of e-mail should be to set up real-world interactions.  Of course, it can't be done w/people who are scattered all over the world, but in can go something like this: "Hey, haven't seen you in a while.. how bout we meet up at the Club Diner?"  Maybe there's a quick back-and-forth in which some topics are discussed, but the idea is that you're using e-mail as a medium to push towards an actual encounter -- NOT as an endless, back-and-forth volley about anything and everything you're doing or thinking.  I really like this principle when it comes to reaching out to people that you don't already know, but want to add to your network.  To me, "Hey, I'm interested in what you're doing, can we get together for coffee" is a winner, but "Hey, I'm interested in what you're doing, can you answer these 9 detailed questions I've crafted for you, with subsections a through c for each?" is a loser.

In 2014, I will be better with e-mails.  Too many important ones fermented way too long in my inbox this fall. I have learned that a client might not bat an eye after replying to your missive from three months ago as if you sent it yesterday, but will follow up in an agitated state if 48+ hours passes before he sees a response to his e-mail to you.

Forget the fairness or the unfairness.  When it comes to 'rightness,' the client takes it -- seven days a week, and twice on Sunday.

1 comment:

C R Krieger said...

Having an acronym might help me.  Thanks for OHIO

Regards  —  Cliff