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9 Tips On Writing Effective Emails To Get What You Want

9 Tips On Writing Effective Emails To Get What You Want

With billions of emails sent each day, it’s not surprising our emails aren’t having the impact we would like. As a form of communication, they’re fast, convenient and accessible to all, but are they effective? They can be if you are willing to follow some simple rules for writing effective emails.

1. Length matters

Regardless of what you say, size matters. We have all been a recipient of a long email, you know the one that makes you sigh even before you start to read it? Putting too much in an email will get a negative reaction from the outset. Keep your email short. If you have a number of subjects to discuss, consider writing a number of emails. It is easier to respond to and deal with one item at a time rather than bombard a person with an inquisition.

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2. Be clear

Get to the point and get there quickly. Let the person know what the email is about in the first sentence; don’t make him or her wait. Getting to the point quickly will hold interest. If there is an action required by the receiver tell him or her that, if a person is clear about what is required he or she will act more quickly.

3. Optimize subject lines

Writing clear subject lines will assist in the clarity required for effective communications. How can you inform the receiver of the content of your email. Think of your subject line like a headline in a newspaper – you have to grab attention fast. Write a subject that has meaning and don’t be afraid to change a subject line if the initial subject of the email is no longer relevant. If an email is going back and forth and the content and relevance changes, change the subject. If you don’t, the receiver may get confused as to context and misinterpret the email.

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4. Don’t send immediately

If you are sending an important email don’t send it immediately after writing. It is wise to take your time and proof-read your email. Alternatively, get someone else to read it for you. If you are writing about a delicate matter, engage someone else’s opinion to ensure the tone of your email is the tone you intend. And don’t forget to consider if an email is the right form of communication at all.

5. Time it right

Always consider timing. This will depend on the goal of your email. You don’t want to get lost in an overloaded inbox. Monday mornings are busy because people are catching up with the previous week. Friday evenings are risky as people leave early for the weekend. Think about the person receiving the email in relation to your subject, when will it suit hime or her to read your content?

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6. Include relevant information

Remember to include all relevant information and links. If you are asking someone to do something for you and you don’t include the links, the likelihood is he or she won’t bother. I regularly receive emails from people who want me to check out their software or their website and they have forgotten to send me the link to their website. People are time-deficient; make it easy for them.

7. Give and take

Don’t only send emails when you are asking for something. Consider the other person. If I only hear from you when you want something I may not respond so well to your requests. Think how you can help others. If you have clients, send them relevant articles or information when you come across it. Keep yourself fresh in their minds. If you want to sell to someone ask first what you can do for them before you ask them to buy from you. Every relationship involves give and take.

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8. Use [EOM]

If you have a short message to send someone consider using only the subject line and [EOM]. [EOM] short for “End of Message.” If you want to tell someone that you received his or her message or that you are clear about what you have to do you could try the following:
SUBJECT: Got your message, I will take care of it [EOM]
This will save the receiver time by not having to open the email. Every second saved adds up to minutes, hours and days that you could be using to do something else.

9. Manage your emails

If you are a person who is not in control of your emails you will likely find that the emails you send are not getting the response you would like. If you don’t reply to other people in a timely manner they will likely not have the respect for you or for your communications that you would like.

In essence, effective emails, like any form of communication should be clear, concise and courteous. Keep these rules in mind when writing your emails and you can’t go wrong.

Featured photo credit: Laptop Stock Image by ChefMattRock via flickr.com

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Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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