Wednesday, August 17, 2011

don’t suck at email

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m taking a look at some of the Work Smart rules posted at the JustJobs Academy, and today is rule 2 of the week:

1. Don’t Suck at your Job
2. Don’t Suck at Email

3. Take Notes
4. Ask for Feedback

I remember the initial weeks working at my last job and feeling overwhelmed when I started to receive the influx of emails that are unavoidable working on a large base.  I needed a system.

Microsoft Outlook was a foreign concept to me having only used Hotmail and Gmail in the past, but it was relatively easy to learn the ins and outs and start making the most of its features.

First, I created folders for my different events and programs and then created filters (based on sender email or subject line) to direct incoming email into these folders.  Having mail automatically sorted as it came in made it easy to identify urgent messages, spam, and mail from new senders.  Most of the base mail I could typically ignore, so having it out of my inbox kept things uncluttered.

Another great feature that I loved was the ability to request read receipts and to set an automated vacation response.  Knowing when someone had read an email I’d sent was invaluable when I needed a response and could then give them a call if I hadn’t heard back.  The value of the vacation responder is kind of obvious; it’s nice when people know that you’re away and can’t respond at the moment instead of them waiting for a few weeks wondering!

As time went on, I started getting messages saying that my inbox was getting too full, so I created offline files on my computer (that show up in the bottom of the folder pane in Outlook) and every month or so, I began moving all of my emails that were over a month old into the offline files.  I could still easily search through the old emails, but they took up space on my hard drive instead of my inbox allotment.

No matter what your job is at work, they need to know that when you are sent an email (or letter, or phone call) that you will respond in a timely matter, and in an appropriate way.  I’ve learned for sure that spelling and grammar is important while emailing at work (so no LOLs either), but emails that are straight to the point and provide all of the relevant information are important too.  Don’t blabber. 

A signature was always a big time saver too.  It was easy to create one and afterwards whenever I opened up a new email, it was automatically at the bottom, ready to be sent!  At one point I even had separate signatures for in-office emails (which needed no contact info) and ones that I sent off base, but over time I realized it was just an extra step and soon everyone was receiving the whole big signature for their perusal (or not).

The workplace can be so technologically based these days, and emails are often your first impression.  A well composed email can say a lot about you whether you want it to or not!

Next up is all about taking notes (and where I go on and on about my love affair with my day planner).  Check back!


This week I’ve been looking at some work smart rules in an effort to better prepare myself for going back to work part time this fall.  I hope you’ve enjoyed them!

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