10 tips for better e-mail etiquette

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I don’t know about you, but getting through my e-mail seems to get more challenging by the month. Occasionally, the messages that stagnate in my inbox are ones that are waiting on a reply, but more frequently, they’re replies to messages. Whenever I have time to prune my inbox I find that most of these replies have lost meaning over time, or maybe even shouldn’t have been sent to begin with.

Personal creativity and productivity blog the 99 Percent (as in 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration) has shared e-mail etiquette tips for the super-busy, an easy-to-follow set of guidelines for managing your own responses to e-mail messages.

Here’s the list in a nutshell; read the article for explanations and suggestions for making these items a reality when managing your own inbox:

  1. Be concise
  2. Communicate “action steps” first, not last
  3. Number your questions
  4. Make the forward clear
  5. Include deadlines
  6. Use “FYI” for e-mails that have no actionable information
  7. Tell them that you’ll get to it later
  8. Don’t send “Thanks!” e-mails
  9. Never send an angry or contentious e-mail
  10. Never “reply all” (unless you absolutely must)

Following these guidelines may be a challenge at first, but like anything if you keep at it the steps will become natural over time, and your inbox (and those of your colleagues) will be a little cleaner.

(via Lifehacker)

Image: Kevin Baird on Flickr

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Aaron Sumner

Aaron Sumner is the Director of Technology for Research and Development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has worked in web development and instructional technology since 1994.