How To Read An Email

Yes, I know. Isn’t it easy to read an email?

Apparently not. In recent weeks, I’ve heard of too many instances of important information or tasks falling through the cracks because of bad email communication. Hence, a few simple instructions on how to properly read an email:

  1. E-mailCheck your email regularly. You don’t have to check it every five minutes, but you should have a regular time each day to check email, just as you check the mailbox in front of your house.
  2. Open your messages. I know people whose method of “checking” email means observing the sender and subject line, but not actually opening the email to see what other information is contained.
  3. Read the email. Completely. From top to bottom, and everything in between. I know far too many people who have missed critical information because they only skimmed the contents of a communiqué.
  4. Make note of what action is required. Is the sender communicating information? Does that information need to go in a calendar or your notes for a project? Is the email requesting some type of action? If so, put the appropriate to-do’s on your task list.
  5. Take action. At the very least, reply to the sender and acknowledge receipt, just so they know you have processed the information and it didn’t get lost in a spam folder. Tell them when you plan to follow up with the information or action requested, or that you have already completed it. Do what you said you would do. Send follow-up emails as needed.
  6. Delete old emails from your inbox. Once it’s taken care of, either file it or delete it. Keeping a clean mailbox will help you process your mail more efficiently and effectively.
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