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Email overload and email charters – 9 Ps of email best practice

Posted Tuesday July 5th, 2011, 12:00 pm by

Email charters can help reduce overload. Recently Chris Anderson TED curator created an email charter which has had a mixed reception see for example Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times. There are parts of Chris’s charter I really like such as ‘short or slow is not rude’ and ‘tighten the thread’.  The disparity might be due to different cultures.

Over many years we have developed an email charter which has indeed saved people many hours across Europe and the UK.  For those with whom we have never had the plesure of working with, here is my Nine Ps of Email Best Practice.  It was first published in Managing in the Email Office and forms the basis of my latest book Brilliant Email.

  1. Put aside quality time to deal with your email – stop letting new emails distract you and don’t be afraid to take time out from the inbox.
  2. Place your emails in folders – do your email housekeeping as you go along.
  3. Prioritise and post back unwanted emails – learn to say no to the emails you don’t need.
  4. Pick the right medium – email is only one of a variety of communications channels.
  5. Point out the purpose of your email – make the subject line stand out.
  6. Pen your email in plain language – shake my hand, greet me, talk to me properly and say good bye professionally.
  7. Patrol your use of attachments – send links rather than whole files and make sure you clean up files before sending them.
  8. Provide time for the recipient – think ahead as to what other information you/the recipient needs before hitting send.
  9. Protect yourself from cyber crime – don’t put anything in an email which you don’t wish either to defend in court or see on the front page of the national paper.

Of course to make an email charter really work assumes that those with whom you work also adopt the charter and change their email behaviour.  Next week I will blog some ways we have used here at Mesmo Consultancy to help organisations change their email culture.

Meanwhile for more tips and hints how they help reduce email overload follow this weeks Tweets and make sure you sign up for our e-briefing of monthly tips and hints.

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