“Delete All” Is Not an Option

I’m fighting my emails and they’re winning. Some days I aspire to simply hit the “delete all” key and – problem solved! At least until an action that was required comes due.

It’s a real problem for me – and frankly, I hope for others as I don’t want to think I’m the only one who can’t control these pesky little entries. The other day I was so excited because I started the day around 450 and when I left I was at 247 – progress… And it’s not a case of reading and deleting, almost everyone required an action that took from 1 minute to 20 or more.

So why do I have so many? Part of it is that my job requires travel and when you average 100+ emails a day, a one-week trip puts you at 1,000 plus. I try to keep up through the BlackBerry but that doesn’t always work.

One thing that would help is clearly identified subject lines; I would then at least know the urgency of the item. Chris Brogan also recently commented on emails and he noted that subject lines matter. Here are a few of his suggestions for subject lines –

  • DECISION NEEDED: Picking the corporate logo today
  • SCHEDULING: Check Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday
  • PROMOTION HELP: Looking for some blog and Twitter love

He says that we should make every email definitive. If you’re planning a meeting, put out three or four days and dates. For the most part, emails should exist to inform, move ideas around, and then stop,” Chris wrote in a recent post.

I had a designer who urged me to send him copy and in the subject line list what the copy was and whether art was included. It made it easier for him when he was laying out the publication – he could identify the email he needed quickly. He trained me well.

Perhaps he could train everyone who is sending me emails before I hit the “delete all” key.

One thought on ““Delete All” Is Not an Option

  1. Allison Stein says:

    Excellent post! One of my goals during my current “creative sabbatical” (i.e. period of unemployment) is to empty my inbox. I am not seeing a light at the end of that tunnel — it just never stops!

    In my most recent job, the execs I worked with received hundreds of emails a day. To keep my emails from getting lost in the flood, I always started the subject line with the desired action: FOR REVIEW, FOR REVIEW (revised), REMINDER, FYI, QUESTION, etc. followed by the topic, and the date I needed a response by, if I had one. It made sense, and it seemed to work.

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