Effective Email and Verses Voicemail

Time management consultant Stephen Young claims that the average time consumed by an unplanned telephone call is 12 minutes, verses 7 minutes for a planned call. This represents five-minute savings every time you jot down some notes before dialing a number.

My average client receives about 45 emails and 15 voicemails a day. But the effectiveness of our usage determines the efficiency with our time management. Here's some tips to help increase your personal performance and that of your team:

When sending messages
Be specific about your subject. The subject line is a great tool to communicate?but so often overlooked. For example, 'October 31 Sales Meeting Agenda'. In your voicemail, let the person know very early in the message why you are calling and what you need. For example, 'I'm calling because I need your input on the Jones Project before I can complete the report due Monday'.

Be specific in your first sentence. For email, the first sentence should answer the 'who, what, why, where and when' for the recipient. With voicemail, using a list helps prevent phone tag, so write down your key points before picking up the phone. In both cases include timelines or deadlines. For example, 'I need you to review and approve the attached budget by 4PM Friday'.

Be selective about distribution. When it comes to emails, try to copy only those individuals directly affected by the content. Copying or forwarding information indiscriminately wastes the recipient's time as well as your own.

When retrieving messages
Retrieval frequency. Generally speaking I recommend picking up messages 3-4 times a day. However, the number of times a day you retrieve messages depends on the type of job you have and the circumstances surrounding your work. If you know there is an issue, contract or deadline looming you may end up checking more frequently on that day.

Filter by person. If you are consistently copied or blind copied on emails, they will probably have a lower priority than ones written specifically to you. Save them in a digital Folder labeled 'cc/bc' and read them at a later time. If they consistently fail to provide information you need, contact the sender and request removal of your name from the distribution list.

Effective maintenance
Treat your email inbox as you would you paper inbox. Leaving information in an inbox just clutters up the system and promotes delayed decision making (aka procrastination). Establish electronic file folders and after reading the message, either file or delete it.

These are just a few tips, but the single most important thing to remember is to develop an email and voicemail strategy, share it with the team and encourage everyone to stick to use!

Copyright 2001 Cynthia Kyriazis. All rights reserved.

Cynthia Kyriazis is a Professional Organizer, trainer, consultant, speaker, coach and author with over 20 years management experience in multi-unit corporations. She is President of Organize it, Inc., an organizational consulting firm serving Fortune 500 clients since 1995. Cynthia has worked with over 150 companies and hundreds of professionals to help improve performance in the areas of time, information, space and electronic file management.

Cynthia has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star and the Legal Intelligencer. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), member of International Society for Performance Improvement ? Kansas City chapter (ISPI-KC) and consultant to the American Coaching Association.

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