Technology is a blessing and a curse. I love how much easier talking to a pal or organizing a meeting has become, but sometimes I just want to throw my computer and smart phone out the window- from the 10th floor. You know what I mean? It gets worse when I neglect my inbox for a few days to get away. Here are 10 rules of emailing organization and etiquette that will help you stay sane, be polite and save your computer from crashing 10 floors below.
Make it a Ritual
Check your email everyday. Don’t let your inbox build up. Just think of how overwhelmed you will be when you turn on your computer in two weeks. I understand if you go on vacation (and I beg you- don’t check your email 24/7 when you’re trying to enjoy time with your family) but stay aware and plan ahead for times you will be away. Which brings me to my next point…
Turn on an Auto-Response
If you go on vacation, let people know you won’t be checking your email or responding to them for a couple weeks. Please don’t leave them hanging!
Keep Your Mailbox Neat and Tidy
Opening your inbox will be a lot less daunting everyday if you don’t have 4,523 messages. Keep your mailbox organized! Delete old emails everyday so you don’t have extra clutter. Another way is to…
Respond in a Timely Fashion
When you get an email, respond or delete. Then, you can clear out the space in your head and inbox. And, the 21st century Emily Post would be pleased. There is no need to keep people waiting days for a simple response. Be brief and concise. This will make it easier (not to mention quicker) for you and your colleagues and friends.
Grammar… Use it!
Proper spelling, grammar and capitalization is necessary. Emails are so much more pleasant to read when you write them so people can understand what you’re trying to say. No teenage slang talk (“I’ll c u on the flip” just isn’t cool anymore).
Include an Informative Subject Line
“Re:” is just not good enough. A person should know what the email is regarding before they open it. Plus, you should be able to reference it easily later.
Don’t be too Forward
Forwarding emails is tricky business. When you forward an email, take out the parts that are irrelevant to the recipient. They don’t need all the extra information. Get rid of extra conversations and all those signatures! Also please, please, please, don’t forward unwanted emails. No chain letters, jokes or spam.
Be Cautious with Attachments
If you don’t know the sender, never open the attachment. Keep in mind that even attachments from friends or colleagues may contain viruses.
Don’t Reply All
Unless your answer truly involves all 30 people on the email, don’t reply all. Not all 30 people need to hear you won’t make it to the barbecue. Only the host needs to know. Trust me.
Lastly, don’t assume you and the recipient are the only people who will ever read your email. If it’s sensitive or gossipy, don’t put it in the cyber world. Someone will get their hands on it who is not supposed to. That’s just the way it works. Be careful!