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Good email Management makes for good Communications

Effective Email Management

By Leanne Koster

E-mail is one of the most powerful and widely used communication tools around today. Every day we log onto our computers at work and most of us will go straight to Outlook to check what new mail we have received. It provides a quick, easy way of communicating not only with other people in our organisation but people all over the world. There are huge benefits to business in having the ability to quickly and easily transfer information as well as being able to set up meetings more efficiently. It is however, essential that we understand the best ways in which to manage this information.

Email Generation Rules

Before you send someone an email there is one simple question you should ask yourself:

'Do you need a response from the recipients urgently?'

If the answer to this question is YES, then you should be trying to contact them by telephone, pager or in person. For example if you wanted someone to attend a meeting in 30 minutes time there is no guarantee that they will read their incoming messages in that time and may therefore miss the meeting. However, if the answer is NO, then email could then be used as an option.

Once you have decided that email is the best option for relaying the necessary information you should follow these guidelines:

High Priority Messages: A message sent as "high priority" requires action by the end of the following day.

Time Specific Messages: Any message that is time specific must be expired after the relevant date. We will look at how to set expiration dates/times later is this section.

Routine Message Categories: All routine messages will be categorized and either filtered to Personal Folders or, where appropriate, removed from email to a bulletin board.

Follow Up Required: If a message requires reading or follow up the recipient must be in the To: field of the message.

Information Only: If you put someone into the Cc: field of a message you should not be expecting the recipient to read or action it. You have sent it for their information only.

Message Content: Keep your message brief, only use attachments if the data volume is significant and use the heading and the first 2 lines of your message to express both the content and the expected action you are requesting

Email Processing

Most of you will open Outlook when at the start of the day and leave it open until you shutdown your computer at the end of the day. To work more effectively with your e-mail program we suggest that you following these simple guidelines wherever possible:

  • Only check your Inbox 3 times a day - morning, after lunch and prior to going home
  • Your Inbox should be empty when you close out of Outlook at the end of each day Filter your emails. We will look at how to do this later in this section Use Tasks and Schedule instead of e-mail messages

When a message arrives in your Inbox, after you have read it, you should do one of the following things:

  • Delete it
  • Schedule it
  • Delegate it to someone else
  • File it in personal folders or in the case of attachments, on your hard drive
  • Reply

About The Author

Leanne Koster is the Director of Big Blue Marble Software Training Solutions, specialising in in-house software applications and standard office applications training. Whether you have one person to train or one hundred, there's a training solution to suit.

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