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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.•

__________

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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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