Thursday, June 10, 2010

Using the Email Subject Line - Correctly

As a virtual assistant I get as many as 200 emails a day.   I am a member of many industry related forums that are very active on a daily basis.  I also get emails from clients, prospective clients, friends and family.  With so many people communicating with me my inbox fills up fast on a daily basis.

I have had many people ask me how I keep my inbox organized and how do I prioritize the large amount of incoming emails everyday.  Throughout the years I've experimented with many organizational tools.  What works for me may not work for you therefore I won't go into detail about how I currently organize and prioritize my inbox with the exception of one important aspect. 

Regardless of which email delivery system you use you have the ability to filter, sort and move emails.  One of the most common methods of sorting involves sorting by the sender but one aspect of the email that is vital to me in project management is the subject line.  My inbox organization works best when incoming email arrives with a subject line relevant to the enclosed message.  I often sort, filter and file emails according to subject, especially when multiple people are involved in the same project. 

As a client of a virtual assistant how does this affect you?  As a client you are a vital part of the project communication and it is extremely helpful when you use the correct "labels" in your subject line.  For example:  You've asked your VA to work on your current database, specifically cleaning up the contact in your "farm area."  If you send her an email that has a subject line of "Farm Area Database Project" then your VA is instantly aware that you have information pertinent to the project.  On the other hand if you send an email with the subject line of "Email from John" then your VA doesn't have a clue what your email content is and will likely not prioritize that email as it should be.  Also, she will already know the email is from you because your name is right there beside the subject line as the "sender." Does this subject line make sense to you?

With my email delivery system, Outlook 2007, I can change the subject line of incoming emails so that I can filter and file messages appropriately.  This is also helpful if I need to search for information regarding a project in the future.  But -- changing the subject line takes time, although just a few seconds, but time nevertheless.  If you send your VA multiple emails a day that need editing in this manner then you are wasting time, or money that could be better spent working on your projects.  You are typing a subject line anyway, why not type an appropriate subject line to begin with?

Today we are all looking for ways to economize and reduce waste.  This is a small item but if you are truly looking for ways to cut back then look at how you might be wasting not only your time but others with how you are creating your emails.

Jeri Winkler, The Secret Assistant, has been working in real estate since 1996. Do you need assistant in becoming the success you know you can be or help maintaining your current success?  Contact Jeri today.


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