In This Edition:
1. The Last of May
2. Does Email Rule All?
3. Offline, Optimize Your Time Online
4. Deal or No Deal
The Last of May
High school and college graduations, the NBA playoffs, and several speaking engagements are in the air. After a wonderful first third of the year, I’m looking forward to the next two thirds. Amazingly, from an initial list of 150 recipients who subscribed, Breathing Space monthly zine subscribers have grown to nearly 9,500 in number! New subscribers are actually out-pacing “unsubcribers” by 6 to 1 each month. In an age of too much email, will miracles ever cease?
Does Email Rule All?
Email is fast, easy, and relatively cheap! The impact of e-mail on your productivity can be devastating, however, if it’s not used wisely. Some people – surely not you- constantly check their e-mail all day long, compounding the information glut that they already face. Some people incessantly send mail merely to receive mail. Some people, the dear souls, spend time actually pondering the spam they receive.
Who among us does not receive more e-mail than he or she can possibly respond to? By some estimates, the typical professional today receives 150 to 190 e-mail messages per day at a minimum, even with spam filters! Despite software filters and ISP crackdowns, mass delivery from spammers has risen dramatically. Data from Jupiter Communications reveals that there are far more e-mail accounts in the U.S. than there are people. Spammers know this and spread their junk everywhere with recklessness.
As you may know, it’s wise to resist any temptation to respond to spam! Never respond even to a procedure for removal from the spammer’s list. If you do, you only confirm that your e-mail address is active, which will make you a future target. Maddening, isn’t it? Here are some things you can do to safeguard your email accounts:
* Send any spam messages you receive to your ISP’s abuse account, along with the source code from the original spam message.
* Avoid posting your primary e-mail address anywhere on the Internet if you can help it. Use a secondary address.
* For secondary email addresses, choose one deep in the alphabet. Spammers’ lists run alphabetically. When an ISP successfully cuts off a spammer, addresses at the end of the list are spared from receiving the junk. * Choose a complex e-mail address. Mattij@yahoo.com, for instance, will receive more spam than gf1W3ly68@hotmail.com.
* Be selective when registering online. Different websites have widely differing policies about the privacy of your e-mail address. When in doubt, check it out, or don’t register.
Even without spam, you’re still probably receiving dozens of e-mails per day. That’s quite a bit of verbiage. To effectively manage your time, keep your job, and have a life, how do you handle e-mail?
When composing messages that you intend to have read, offer a vibrant subject line so that the receiver will read them. If you have trouble thinking one up, wait until you have composed your message. Then peruse what you’ve written, and voila! Two or three words (usually together) will jump out at you, and there’s your subject.
Also, treat any e-mail you ever send as having the potential to revisit you! If you write an email that can land you in trouble, expect it to come back and haunt you.
Offline, Optimize Your Time Online
Here’s an idea that my audiences just love: Early in the morning, before opening new messages, the “administrivia” that you handle and complete often enhances your productivity in both sending and receiving e-mail. This includes arranging your inboxes and composing thoughts before going online.
As with all good writing, it’s prudent to park outbound e-mail messages for a while and revisit them before sending. With virtually all software and service providers, you have the option to store an e-mail message as a “draft message” for later retrieval. Also, those who check their e-mail at every spare moment often are not doing such a great job. Avoid that trap by enhancing your offline effectiveness.
Considering the big picture of life versus email, could it be too convenient for our own good? Have you ever angered or confused anyone because of an e-mail? If you think the answer is “no”, think again. Unless worded carefully, e-mails can seem impersonal, cold, even abrasive. It’s not that you intended to ruffle any feathers, but in the haste of instant communication, ruffling happens! As a good rule of thumb, if your message is…
* personal or emotional in nature
* completely novel
* one that requires extended clarification
* one that seeks approval
* one that may have profound impact on the recipient
…you might want to call by phone rather than send an email. After all, a little voice contact now and then never hurts and may help considerably!