I changed one of my email habits.
For years, when I had several issues to raise with someone, I sent a round-up email with a subject line that said something like “various.” I prided myself on my efficiency in combining everything in one big email.
Finally, light dawned, and I realized that my system didn’t work very well.
Usually I’d get a response to one or two of the issues I’d raised, and the other issues would be forgotten.
I was frustrated until finally I applied one of my Twelve Commandments: “Identify the problem.” (See left-hand column for the Twelve Commandments.)
What was the problem? Some issues were being addressed, others weren’t.
Why? Because I was packing too many issues together.
If the recipient wanted to refer back to the email, it was hard to find because the subject line wasn’t descriptive. It was easy to delete the message without realizing that some issues had been overlooked.
I’ve hit on a system that works much better. Every separate issue goes in a separate email, with an appropriate subject line. I’ve been known to send four separate emails to the same person in the space of five minutes. (In those cases, the unfortunate recipient usually is the Big Man.) Sure, it means more email traffic, but it makes each email shorter and easier to track—and each one is its own “action item.”
So far, the experiment seems to be a success.
Kathryn Hawkins posted an extremely nice piece about The Happiness Project on a terrific new site, Gimundo, which celebrates “Good news and positive stories…served daily.” Her kind words and the spotlight on my blog made me very happy!
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