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Start Page: Follow 5 email commandments to streamline use

Kim Brand
April 11, 2012
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Kim BrandYou are an email sinner. Email distracts you at the office and interrupts your family time at home. You are spending more and more time searching for missing messages. The clutter in your inbox rivals the chaos on your desk.

These are the five email commandments that can turn your email messaging life around. They aren’t easy to follow, but they will lead you to a better, more productive place. Consider this: you’ll be using email for a very long time – you should be good at it.

Process email at most four times a day. If possible, delegate your inbox to an assistant so they process incoming messages for you. This will allow you to focus on what is important and what to do next. A report by CNN claimed that frequently checking your email lowers your IQ.

File messages and attachments into project folders. Get messages out of your email program as fast as you can and into plbrand-tip-041312.gifaces where they can be shared and organized. Don’t let your email program become a silo where only a portion of a client’s or case’s information is stored apart from other documents, spreadsheets, etc. Put it all in one place. Don’t forget to file ‘sent’ messages, too!

Practice basic email hygiene

Use a signature block with your phone number, fax and alternate contact information so people can reach you by other means than email.

Avoid “Reply to All” – embarrassing consequences are far too frequent.

Never reply to a message when you are angry.

Skip “FYI,” “OK,” and “Got it,” replies that simply add clutter to an already cluttered system.

Avoid using your professional email address for personal communications.

Don’t “hijack” subjects: keep an email message on topic; create a new message if necessary.

Use BCC: to distribute a generic message to a large group. Your address book may contain contact information a friend or business partner may prefer not to share.

Invest time to develop your email skills. Create rules for email processing and let your email program do the work. Aspire to become an email ninja by watching tutorial videos on YouTube, using the “Help” system or asking a friend to demonstrate an advanced skill. Shaving a few seconds off processing each message can save you days by the end of the year.

Employ an email system that gives you access from anywhere: office, smartphone, web or home, but presents a consistent brand-google-factbox-041312.gifview. If you delete, send or file a message on one device the action should be reflected on the others.

The state of the art in email delivery means you should not be bothered by more than a few spam messages a day – if you are, change your email provider. Email is best suited to short subjects that can be digested in a few seconds. If your message doesn’t fit on one screen consider sending it by postal mail, as an attached PDF, or a fax. (Never send a .doc file!)

While email makes it convenient to send all kinds of attachments, be aware that many systems limit the size or type of attachments that can be delivered. A client’s email system recently broke down after a message with a large attachment was distributed to every employee. Mail servers are like any other computer: they need storage space to operate and depend on backups to protect information. Both of those resources are strained by carelessly using email as a digital dump truck.

Finally, protect the safety and security of your email by placing a strong password on every system or device you use to send or receive email. Much of your life is now threaded through the electronic messages you share with friends and business partners – all of it is in your inbox. And if your email is important to you or your business, make sure it is protected by backing it up regularly. The pain of the loss of all your email may not approach that of a loved one, but it can sure make you feel sick.•

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Kim Brand is a technology expert, author and president of Computer Experts, Inc. For a free Audio CD on email management send a note to: Kim@ComputerExpertsIndy.com or call 317-833-3000. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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