28 April 2021

Fixing Email – Step 3




Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about email and how the answer to fixing email might be in how you handle the messages you send, rather than how you handle the messages you receive. There are five steps we can take to fix email. The first step we discussed was brevity and the second step was using better subject lines (you can read that post here: Step 2 to Fixing Email) .

The third step I wanted to talk about has to do with what you’re actually writing the email about. That’s right, the content of your message is always important.

We all know people who can cover three or four topics in a single conversational breath.  They’ve got lots to share and you to share it with. While this might be fine when it’s time to catch up, it’s not that great for an email exchange. Following up to better subject lines, try and keep your emails focused on one topic or issue of concern.  This makes it easier to file a reference email and gives you a clear focus for your next steps with an action email.

However, this is one of those “use your best judgement” steps. If you’re writing a newsy email to grandma then multiple subjects are okay. You’re catching her up on all that is your life. But in the business world, it helps to stay focused. A short, one topic email may be more likely to get a response than an email that jumps all over the place.

So what’s your next step? Before you send another email, take a moment and consider what the email is really about. Does the subject line reflect that? Is the content of the email just as long as it needs to be, and focused on one topic? If so, hit send!

How’s your email looking this week? Are you overwhelmed with incoming mail or do you feel like you’ve got it under control? Drop me an email (april@iliosdigital.com) or comment here and let me know!

Don’t forget to join us next week for Step 4 to fixing email!

14 April 2021

Fixing Email – Step 2




Last week we talked about email and how the answer to fixing email might be in how you handle the messages you send, rather than how you handle the messages you receive. There are five steps we can take to fix email, and the first step we discussed was brevity (and you can read the entire post here: Step 1 to Fixing Email).

The second step to fixing email has to do with clear subject lines. Every email needs a subject or a header – some programs will actually stop you from sending if you don’t have a subject listed – but not every subject line is a good one.

We’ve all seen those emails that hit our inbox and say ‘Zoom’ or ‘Deadline’ or even ‘Don’t forget’. At a glance how are we supposed to know what’s actually inside those emails until we take a moment and open them up to look?  And every time we go to our email we end up having to reopen that same message to remind us of what is inside.

That’s why I’m a big proponent of clear and descriptive subject lines in your email.  They allow you to quickly prioritize and categorize an email, letting you get back to your day that much faster. I’m talking about subject lines like ‘Zoom meeting at 7?’ or ‘Miller project deadline extended to Feb’ or even ‘Don’t forget to feed the fish’. See the difference?

So what’s your next step? Before you send another email, take a moment and consider what the email is really about. Does the subject line reflect that? Could the recipient tell at a glance what might be inside the email? Don’t forget either, that you may be able to change the subject line of an email before you respond to it.

How’s your email looking this week? Are you overwhelmed with incoming mail or do you feel like you’ve got it under control? Drop me an email (april@iliosdigital.com) or comment here and let me know!

Don’t forget to join us next week for Step 3 to fixing email!

6 April 2021

How to Fix Email




How many times are you checking your email each day? Either because you’re bored or because you’re trying to stay on top of your unread count? How much spam are you getting? Cat memes you didn’t ask for (but why not, they’re about cats!), and messages you didn’t need to be cc’d on. That’s not including all the newsletters and ads you subscribed to at one point.

We’re overloaded by email. And the worse part is, the business world runs on email. Love it or hate it, you can’t leave it behind or pretend it doesn’t exist. Google ’email overload’ and you’ll see lots of discussion on how to make it better. How many times have you tried to fix your email problem? Inbox Zero marathons, filters, changing email address, the options are out there.

But maybe the answer isn’t in how you handle the messages you receive, but in how you handle the messages you send.  I believe that one of the ways to fix email is to send better messages.  You can’t change how someone else uses email, but you can lead by example of how email should be used.

So where do we start? The first step is Brevity.

I’m as guilty as the next person of sending long messages. There are always things I want to explain or points I think I need to clarify. But what if I didn’t do that? What if I just responded with what was asked instead of elaborating?

Now, I’m not saying to forgo all the niceties like hello and thanks. Those are an important part of every email. But before you respond, consider the question being asked and how much information you really need to share.  (This is one I’ve got to work on myself!)

So what’s your next step? Look at that email you were about to send. Can it be shortened up? Is there a better, more concise way to say what you were about to say? Not all emails call for brevity, but you’d be surprised at how many do.

What about you? How’s your email count feeling lately? Drop me an email (april@iliosdigital.com) or comment here and let me know!

Then join me next week for Step 2 to fixing email!

24 March 2021

Coffee and Filters




Coffee, emails about upcoming sales, and Google search results. What do these three things have in common? They’re all things that can be filtered!

I recently worked with a client who subscribed to a lot of mailing lists. Lists for continuing education courses, lists for sales and promotions, and lists for professional chatter (forum activity). She received so many of these emails that her action item emails were getting lost in the mess. Because she didn’t want to unsubscribe – but didn’t need to see these emails right away – filters were the best answer.

Filters allow you to take a specific type of email – from a certain person or company –  and have it skip the inbox, going instead into a designated folder. The email is still there and marked as unread, but it isn’t competing with more urgent action emails in your inbox.

Each email system has its own method of setting up filters or rules as they are sometimes called. It takes a little bit of work on the front end to set up filters, but the resulting increase in productivity makes it worthwhile. Once you have those relevant but not urgent emails in their own folder, you can read them when you are ready. 

If you are a Gmail user, your email may already be doing some of this if you utilize the multi-tab – Priority, Social, Updates, Promotions, and Forums – approach. 

If you need help setting up your email filters, let’s talk! Schedule a Discovery Call and together we’ll figure out the best approach. 

3 March 2021

Is There Mystery Meat in Your Inbox?




I picked up canned cat food at the store the other day. Looking at the shelf it always seems there is at least one can, if not a couple, that are in danger of losing their paper labels. I can just imagine getting one of those cans home, then having it sit on the shelf for ages because we don’t know what flavor is inside. Could be tuna, could be salmon, or maybe even chicken. Without a label, all we know is that it’s cat food.

Email subject lines are the same way. We’ve all seen those emails that hit our inbox and say ‘Zoom’ or ‘Deadline’ or even ‘Don’t forget’. At a glance how are we supposed to know what’s actually inside those emails until we take a moment and open them up to look? And every time we go to our email we have to open that message up again because there are no clues as to what is inside. Just like that mystery meat cat food.

That’s why I’m a big proponent of descriptive subject lines in your email.  They allow you to quickly prioritize and categorize an email, letting you get back to your day that much faster. I’m talking about subject lines like ‘Zoom meeting at 7?’ or ‘Miller project deadline extended to Feb’ or even ‘Don’t forget to feed the fish’. See the difference?

I know you can’t control what other people put in their subject lines, that’s true. But who was it that said ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’? Don’t forget either, that you can sometimes change the subject line of an email before you return it. Help avoid the mystery meat emails!

Would you prefer to receive these tips in your inbox? Sign up for the Ilios Digital Organizing Newsletter.

26 January 2021

Bing! You’ve Got Mail!




I visited my nieces recently. The 4 year old likes to play dolls and was thrilled about having a new playmate around. However, it was ‘Play!’ every five minutes we weren’t actively engaged in playtime. No time for auntie to read a book or watch TV. No, it was all play all the time.

Email can be like that too. When you’ve got notifications on your phone or computer, every time you get a new email there’s a little ‘bing’ that goes off and demands your attention. No time for getting anything else done when you’ve got email tugging at your attention. Kind of like a toddler tugging at your pants.

So what should you do? Turn off your email notifications! Both on your phone and on the computer. Don’t let email dictate your life. Set aside specific times during the day to check email and use the rest of the time to focus on other work. It can take some time to get used to, but your productivity will thank you.

Are you interested in detoxing your inbox? I’ve got a plan for that! Sign up today for a Discovery Conversation and we’ll talk about how to get your email under control.

Would you rather get these tips in your email? Sign up for the Ilios Digital Newsletter!

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