Subject line: CRITICAL AND TIME SENSITIVE
Message body: Can someone cut on the coffee machine and start brewing a cup that will be hot when I walk in 30 minutes from now? I’m running late and need a cup before my first meeting. Please reply all.
Subject line: Conference Preparation
Message body: Hey team. Hope everyone had a great weekend. Let’s get together on Thursday and discuss how we want to proceed as relates to our organization’s presentation at the national conference. Please bring notes and come prepared to bounce ideas off others and to have them bounced off you. Thanks.
Which of these e-mails is urgent? Which is important?
We often get so caught up in the urgent that we miss out on the important. We get kept late at work for the immediate and don’t make it home in time to see the impactful. I heard a quote recently (unfortunately I can’t recall where from to cite the source) that said, in essence, “Urgent things shout. Important things whisper.” A traditional job is going to ride you until you get your work done. A traditional spouse is going to let things disengage slowly until the two of you are distant. The job’s shout drowned out the spouse’s whisper.
We have to start listening to and appreciating the whispers again. Everyone can hear the shouts but the whispers are meant for a select audience. When your instinct tells you something, that’s a whisper. When your spirit lights up when you see a job posting that speaks to your calling, that’s a whisper. When your spouse takes your plate to the sink, that’s a whisper. How often do we acknowledge the whispers?
I’m not saying that work isn’t important. It is. But, sometimes, before dropping everything, ask yourself, “Can it wait?” And, leaders, before asking people to drop everything for you, ask yourselves, “Can it wait? Is this thing that’s urgent in my eyes truly important or am I just being impatient?”
Oh, and don’t be afraid to tell folks that something can wait (respectfully, of course). Not only will it help you, but it will remind them that time is valuable and not something to be abused.
Make prioritization a priority. (Haha!)
The Dos and Don’ts of Email Signatures
Everyone has different rules on e-mail signatures. Personally, I have a quote but that’s because I’m in fundrasing at a school and since every dollar counts, I close all e-mails saying with “Very few burdens are heavy if everyone lifts.” ~ Sy Wise. Take this post with a grain of salt but definitely take this post and put it to use. By the way, I like the hyphen between the “e” and the “mail” but this isn’t my article.
Existential Office E-Mails by Jessie Gaynor
This one is just humorous but sometimes you need a bit of levity to make the work week go by a bit quicker.
Steal These 16 Mental-Health Secrets of Famous Geniuses by Ari Notis
Mental health is a hot topic now because we know how much it has to do with longevity, physical health, depression, and everything else in life. These tips are kind of important. Above all else, young professionals, we must protect our safe spaces.
If you receive an e-mail and it requires you to take action, read the e-mail in its entirety for understanding. Then, if you have questions, read it a second time. If you’re still not getting it (and there is nothing wrong with not getting something), then you ask. But if it is evident that you skimmed an e-mail and then reach out to me for clarification, I will reply to your e-mail by forwarding the initial e-mail with the words “See highlighted,” and highlight the part you failed to read thoroughly the first two times.
Sorry, not sorry.
Make common sense a priority.
I am willing to estimate that I get 100 e-mails a day (not talking about my work e-mail address). I may need to look at fifteen. Four may require a response. So what do I do with the other eighty five? Well, I’ve started selecting all unread e-mails, scanning the subject line and sender, and, those that don’t need to stay, I archive on sight. If ever I’m looking for a topic that one of the many newsletters I get touches on, it’s as simple as searching back through my archives. But I don’t need to keep the 36,500 e-mails that I get on an annual basis in my inbox. And neither do you. Each weekend, my goal is to get my personal and business e-mail inboxes down to ten or fewer e-mails which I have read (most which require me to take action), and the rest, I select (all which should have been read by Sunday evening) and *POOF* they’re magically archived. Maybe you should declutter too. It certainly works miracles.
Make professional development a priority.
If you’re like me, your e-mail inbox can get pretty flipping hectic. Every day, I get a minimum of 25 messages sent to my personal account. Maybe 3 require a response. But I rarely go through them. I say, “I really want to read this person’s blog posts. I’ll do it when I get home.” Then I end up getting home and I’ve received 3 more that I want to read. I plan on reading them before I fall asleep that night and, over night, I get 14 more. Now, it’s easy for things to snowball and, by the end of the week, I would easily have 125 e-mails in my inbox, not including the 2 I keep in there from my dad. But that’s before I came up with my current strategy. So, here are a few tips.
- Purge the inbox completely. Seriously. Select all e-mails. Archive them if they’re not extremely important. And, there you have it. A clear inbox. But that’s just the beginning. Now you must follow my process (or at least take mine with a grain of salt and develop your own).
- Create proactive filters. I get e-mails from J. Crew and Bath & Body Works and all these other companies trying to market their products. I’m guessing you do to. And those e-mails serve a purpose. When it’s time to go shopping, I just may need a discount code for a J. Crew suit and they have some pretty good deals. But I don’t need to see it all the time. So I set up filters that push predetermined e-mails from the inbox straight to the archives. I can always get to them if I need them but, chances are, I’ll never need them.
- Develop a reply time frame and stick to it. I reply to all e-mails within 48 business hours. I try to keep it down to 24 but sometimes I miss the mark. After I respond, I remove it from my inbox and set a reminder with Siri to follow up after a week, if necessary.
- Don’t create unnecessary folders. Just archive. Before I knew how to use GMail, I created folders for everything. Now I don’t really worry about folders because I never look back through the folders. Gmail (and likely other major e-mail providers) allow you to search through all of your e-mails. So, I just archive things when I’m done and, if I ever need them again, I just search. Boom. Simple.
- Wipe your e-mail accounts from your phone from time to time. Right now, my e-mail takes up 81 MB of space on my smartphone. Ok. Now hold on. Let me wipe my G-mail off and re-sign in.. *73 seconds goes by* 11.3 MB gained. While that may not seem like a whole lot on a 64 GB iPhone but every byte helps, especially when you’re trying to download more music every week, right?
- Check your spam folder every two weeks. This has nothing to do with your inbox but I miss so many e-mails just because I forget to look at my spam folder. I still forget it from time to time. *Note to self: create a standing reminder every two weeks to check Spam folder*
Create an e-mail organization process and stick to it. It will make your life more seamless.
Make professional development a priority.
John’s network got him a job opportunity with Firm A and School B. Firm A ended up moving their hiring process quickly whereas School B was taking their time. So, by the time School B reached back out to John, he had already accepted a Firm A’s offer (but, like any motivated young professional, he spoke with School B about what they were offering). After consideration, Firm A was still a better decision for John.
Still, School B asked him if he knew any good candidates for the role. He referred his good friend Joe. So, Dr. Donald Jones from School B reached out to Joe via e-mail. Joe responded:
Joseph B. Low
Mind you, Joe doesn’t know Dr. Jones from a stranger on the street. So, referring to Dr. Jones as “Don” (not even Donald) was a bit too comfortable. When Dr. Jones and John had lunch soon after, Joe’s faux pas came up.
So, who made the mistake? John, Joe, or Dr. Jones? And what was the mistake?
Make professional development a priority.