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One Subject Per Email

The One Subject Email

You probably noticed people are busy. Like, all the time. Even when they have a moment to relax, they’ll probably spend that moment whipping out their cell phone and checking Reddit.

I’m not criticizing or praising this trend. It’s simply the way life is now.

You need to deal with this fact when you send out emails, especially ones from which you need a reply. A long, rambling email isn’t going to read well on a tiny screen. And, just as important, Instagram is just a click away.

But worse than a long email is a long email about seven different things. No one is going to process all of that, because again, they’re busy, and you’re boring.1

If you send the UPM a provisional crew list for approval and tell him where his new parking spot is and ask what he wants for lunch, you’ll be lucky if he tells you the ham sandwich belongs in the electrical department.

Break your emails up. Each email should be about one thing, and one thing only. Tighten that information up as much as humanly possible, to ensure the recipient reads the whole thing.2 If at all possible, ask only one question.

Also, for the love of God, write a clear subject line.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. I don’t mean you you; I mean, work emails in general.
  2. Pro tip: If the email fills the window on your desktop browser, it’s too long.
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