Oct 12 2011

The Four A’s of Email

I like to adhere to the AAAA rule of email. The four A’s of email reminds you to check you email for four items before you click the send button. Check and double check for correct Address, correct Attachments, correct Attitude and tone and state an Action you want from a recipient.

Recently, a developer in distress sent the following email to the whole company.

I can’t delete any data from any UI screen.

That test doesn’t read like an email, it doesn’t even make sense as a tweet, it’s like an unfortunate cookie message. The email should not have been sent to the whole team, which include sales people, it is to vague, does not have any clear action or request.

Communication is vital for any team and the teams running on full speed need the right level of communication in the right medium. If you are interested in learning how to effectively use email to communicate with your team I recommend the following posts.

There is a fifth A; don’t be an Ass.

Apr 14 2011

Keep is Short and Simple

No one has time to read long rambling text. One of the great things about Twitter is that it has a 140 character limit, it forces people to be concise, precise, to the point. It is so much easier to follow someone twitter than someones blog. This is also true for corporate communication. Within a team, the best way to ask short question is through instant messages such as Skype. The one draw back to instant messaging systems is that people expect instant responses. But for quick yes or no questions this is the best approach. More detailed questions can be escalated to email. But always be short and precise in emails. Always stay on point when emailing someone. If you are making multiple points separate them to their own bullets or paragraphs. Don’t intermix different ideas in the same paragraph. Always outline and simplify key points to one line bullet points. When asking for something, be clear as to what you are requesting or asking and always outline what you have tried, research, or done prior to asking.

Effective communication is a skill. There are tools, habits, and best practices that can help maximize the results of your team communication efforts. One of my most effective tool in communicating is to keep to the Three Sentences practice. One way to successfully achieve reply within three sentences is to never answer the same question twice, to refer to existing documentation, wiki sites, and other resources.

Feb 8 2011

My Favorite Feature on iOS Devices: Email Share

My Favorite feature on iOS devices is the ability of sharing data, images, files, notes via email that’s built into many apps. I have a specific email account that I email myself tweets from Twitterrific, images from the Photos, links from Safari, sketches from SketchBook, etc. I treat this email account as my to do task manager, at any point in time I have a few emails waiting for me for to research, look into, read later, or do. Email is the best way for me to share data between all my electronic devices, between work desktop, personal laptop, iPhone, and iPad. The email share feature is built into many iOS applications so i don’t need anything else other than a dedicated email account. I have accounts with services such as box.net and Evernote but these services are not built in into every application I use, email share feature is.

Twitterrific Share Tweet via Email

Twitterrific Share Tweet via Email

Jan 22 2011

Three Sentences

A family member has over 20,000 unopened emails in her inbox. I get just as many emails and I average somewhere between 5-10, depending on the day/time of the week. I don’t claim to subscribe to the Inbox Zero movement but I try to keep my inbox clean and manageable. I have a complicated email system that I have setup for myself. I use Google Apps for Domain to host the email address for my websites. I commonly use in about 5 email addresses, most of these are tied to one inbox in GMail so that I can send and receive email from all these accounts by logging in once. I also use folders, priority mail, and star important email to try to manage all incoming messages. I am quick to remove myself from mailing lists that I am no longer interested in, I am quick to spam unsolicited emails, and I am quick to delete emails. In addition to all these technology tools and tricks, I’ve started following the Three Sentences discipline.

Three Sentences devotees claim to threat email responses like text messages, so instead of long verbose letters each email response is simply three sentences. I think of it like Twitter for email. There is also a Four Sentence and Five Sentence variation of this, the key is to stick to a disciple of writing short concise emails that get to the point at hand.