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Write concise emails and save everyone time

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By Monika Kristofferson
Office Efficiency
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 9:39 a.m.
  • Monika Kristofferson

    Monika Kristofferson

Email takes up a large portion of our office time each day and it usually ends up sneaking into our evenings, too. Surely, it seems like shooting someone a quick email is pretty basic, but if you aren’t concise, you may end up fielding clarification emails. More time spent on email means less time on other tasks.
Time is also money. Tom Pisello wrote in ITBusinessEdge.com in 2008 that organizations lose an estimated $2,100 to $4,100 per user annually due to poorly written communications. That definitely adds up year after year and proves it’s worth your time and energy to create concise emails.
Strengthen your email muscles with the following guidelines.
The beginning
Create a concise subject line. Your subject line is your headline. Grab your reader’s attention by being clear about the subject of your email, including a date if applicable. A strong subject line will make a future email search more successful. Here’s an example: Board Meeting is Scheduled for May 15, ’13 @ 1:00 p.m. Bad subject lines: FYI, Thanks, LOL, Got It.
Be professional. Make sure you follow company policies and keep email professional. If you have strong emotions while typing an email, give yourself 24 hours before you hit send or have someone else review it for you. Remember, all caps and exclamation points may come across as shouting. When in doubt, speak to the recipient directly. Also keep in mind that email is company property.
Include a warm greeting. Just as you would acknowledge someone walking by you in the hallway, take the time to acknowledge your recipient with a simple greeting before jumping straight to your point.
Have you ever received an email that looked like a wall of words when you opened it? Some people are notorious for sending overwhelming emails that are tempting not to open. Make sure emails that you send are easy to read and to the point, which brings us to the second part of an email.
The body
Summarize the key point of your email. Let your reader know what you’re writing about and include due dates or deadlines. Here’s an example:
“I will have the financial reports that you requested completed for you on Monday, April 15th @ 10:00 a.m.”
No need for a wall of words through run-on sentences or paragraphs.
Place ideas in logical order. If you have a list, make it easy for your recipient’s eyes to go right to your main ideas or topics. You can do this with bullets, underlined headings, bold headings or using numbers for sequential tasks.
Your topics or points will jump off the page, which makes it easier for the busy person on the other end of your email to see the key points.
Limit attachments. Keep email simple and prevent your recipient from feeling wary about what they open by limiting attachments when you can. It’s less information for them to save, too.
The closing
Close with kudos. Just as you started your email with a light greeting, end your email with a friendly closing or compliment to end on a positive note.
Create a signature line. Some signatures get a bit out of control with lines and lines of information and inspirational quotes. Keep signature lines simple with your name, title and basic contact or social media information without going overboard.
Spend a little extra time creating clear, concise emails to save yourself a lot of time in the long run. Your email recipient will appreciate it, too. To read more about email management from the resource that I value the most, check out the book “The Hamster Revolution” by Mike Song.
Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer and productivity consultant who owns Efficient Organization NW in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905 or monika@efficientorganizationnw.com.
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