The nasty e-mail habit that drives me crazy

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jun 11

You’ve seen e-mails all in a row with the Subject line just like this:

Joe Smith Let’s meet

Sue Jones Let’s meet

Mary Joe Let’s meet

Fred Flintstone Let’s meet

Joe Smith Let’s meet

Mary Joe Let’s meet

Joe Smith Let’s meet

What is buried inside of them? Well, most likely Joe wants to set up a meeting with people to discuss something. And then people start replying with suggested times…and do a “Reply All” to do it.

Then somewhere in those e-mails is the real meeting time and/or conference number for the meeting. And perhaps in yet a different one is the agenda for the meeting. Assuming you get an agenda, of course.

Then in some other one of the e-mails is Mary’s file to use for the meeting. Then in one of Fred’s e-mails is his file for the meeting.

And then you sit down and take five minutes to prepare for the meeting itself. You have to go through twenty e-mails to find the conference number. Five more to find the agenda. In the meantime, you cross three other e-mails with files in them that will be used in the meeting, but you really don’t know if you got all of them because there is no definitive list with them on it.

It drives me nuts. And, yes, I am guilty of doing this too. It still drives me nuts.

Here’s the deal: put meaningful Subject lines in your e-mail and when you reply, ensure that the Subject line is still meaningful.

Like this:

Joe Smith Request meeting time for Project X

Mary Joe (Reply only, not Reply All…) Cannot meet on Wednesday for Project X meeting

Fred Flintstone Enclosed file for Project X meeting

By taking ten extra seconds to make a meaningful subject line, you save immense amounts of time in the long run and feel much more in control.

After all, you wouldn’t have read this article on Cube Rules if the title of the article was “E-mail,” would you? Nope. Meaningful titles help communicate and keep you productive.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.