Friday, January 9, 2009

COMMENTARY>>10 Commandments for E-mail

By Maj. Constantine Tsoukatos
314th Maintenance Operations Squadron

When looking for process improvement events we typically focus on big ticket items, but I think little things matter, too. Take email for instance. One email by itself is very insignificant. But if we touched 10 emails per day, times approximately 320,000 Air Force members, thatís 3,200,000 emails everydayÖand Iím being conservative. If we eliminate or reduce the number of emails, or improve the content/efficiency of emails, thatís time we can spend elsewhere.

These 10 commandments were presented by Mr. Wells, former Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command contracting director, which he gave permission to use. Here they are:
1. Use a meaningful subject line and put your bottom line first. Want people to read your email? Make it easy to read.
2. Donít bury taskers in the text. Want something done? Short suspense? Put it in the subject line.
3. Shorter is always better! Give who, what, where, when and why. You know the saying, ďIf I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.Ē
4. Remember the telephone? Email is a terrible medium for two-way conversation Ė if you want dialog or quick reply, call.
5. Paper clips are a warning to the receiver Ė donít open me, I will take more time to read than you have available. Attachments should be avoided or minimized when sending e-mails. If you include an attachment, explain the 5 Wís in your e-mail text. You can also paste items from Word or PowerPoint directly into a message, if necessary.
6. When you forward a message, delete redundant messages, responses, meaningless addressee headers and other non-value added content.
7. Limit recipients to those who really have an action. Donít use a distribution list when individual addressing is appropriate. Remember that courtesy copy addressees may choose to delete without reading.
8. Have someone proofread what youíre sending. You may know what youíre saying, but will anyone else?
9. Donít send poems, graphics, jokes, videos or junk mail. Others donít have time to read. Freedom of Information Act probably makes your e-mail public info, so if itís not fit for the Washington Post, better not send it.
10. Follow military and organizational protocol! If you would not call or write to the recipient, then donít e-mail either. (BONUS 11th commandment: Never, never, never use ďreply to allĒ unless all addressees need to receive your reply.)

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