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  Document produced by Beds CCG IT & Info Steering Group
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  e-tiquette Page 1 of 8 e-tiquette   (=how to get emails under control) Using email sensibly  It is so easy to use email in a way which makes life difficult both for you and for yourcolleagues. Every  email has the potential to cause problems to other peoplebecause: ã   Every email you send has to be read (by someone, if not lots of people). Thattakes time out of their working day — only a small amount each, perhaps, butit all mounts up. If it takes 30 seconds to read an email, and you send 60 aday, that means at least 30 minutes work for each of your recipients – andvastly more if you send each email to multiple recipients. Or to put it anotherway, your recipients will spend 6% -10% of their day  just reading emails  (never mind acting upon them) ã   Even if an unnecessary email isn’t read it still clogs up the in-box , ‘hiding’other emails that really are important. ã   The easier you make it to understand an email, the quicker it gets read, thequicker it will be dealt with, and the quicker it will be disposed of  .We’ve collected some useful ideas in this document – there are quite a few of them,but at the very least, please try to follow the ideas in the ‘Summary list’ on theback page .The Bedfordshire CCG’s IT and Informatics steering group is unanimous inrecommending these principles, and we hope you will start putting them intopractice. It will help everyone within the whole of the CCG — not just in the centralCCG, but also within the practices and the community. But there’s a strange catch —most of them are altruistic. Your  actions will save other people’s time. Yourworkload will only reduce at lot when your colleagues start putting these principlesinto action. Therefore, the more you can tell your colleagues about these principlesand encourage them to put them into practice, the sooner your own emailworkload will drop. We’ll start by describing (in red) how to do it badly, so you can see the problems thatemails can cause. Then we’ll describe (in black) how to do it well. If you want to make other peoples’ lives a misery , do the following: ã   Always ‘Reply to all’ (that will clutter up twenty other people’s in-boxes witha copy. And if  they  hit reply to all it will instantly make it even worse.) ã   Pick a subject (or ‘thread title’) that doesn’t describe the contents of youremail. Then in a week’s time neither you nor your recipients will be able tofind it quickly. ã   Keep on using the same title even if the subject matter has slowly changed .It’s called ‘thread drift’, and means you can lose important information —say, about a tax deadline — in a thread (a sequence of emails) whose title  e-tiquette Page 2 of 8refers to refunding travelling costs. Again, neither you nor your recipients willbe able to locate the information quickly at a later date without doing a fulltext search, which can take ages in Outlook. ã   Always copy the previous email when replying . After a few replies, with a bitof luck you’ll have an email trailing twenty other old emails, taking up serverspace and making it harder for everyone to navigate around the email’scontents. (This works even better if everyone uses gigantic footers.) ã   You might even find that you’ve copied in previous emails containing privateinformation, such as ‘Will you respond to this idiot, or shall I?’ thus makingthese comments public. It could be disastrous for customer relations, privacy,confidentiality and PR. ã   Have a really large footer (‘signature’) that automatically gets added to eachemail you send. That’ll do several things: o   Increase the amount of time taken for the recipient to scroll throughyour email (especially if it’s a ‘conversation’ of, say, ten exchangesbetween you and others) o   Increase the bandwidth needed to send the information o   Who reads the adverts and homilies in the footer anyway? And if theydo read them once, they’ll be alienated from its contents, having readthe same verbiage 223 times this week alone… Putting big graphicsand adverts in the footer is even more irritating.   ã   Write copiously  – at least twelve paragraphs, each of fourteen complexsentences. Use complicated, long sentences, each with multiple subjectswhose logic wanders all over the place. Whatever you do, don’t read it backto yourself before sending it — you might see some mistakes and correctthem. ã   Use tiny type for important stuff. It packs in more words per line which makes it much harder for the eye to scanfrom one line to the next in a densely worded paragraph – very much as you are experiencing at the moment.Wearing, isn’t it?   ã   Pick a ghastly combination for typeface and colourPick a ghastly combination for typeface and colourPick a ghastly combination for typeface and colourPick a ghastly combination for typeface and colour:::: it makes theit makes theit makes theit makes thetexttexttexttexthard to reahard to reahard to reahard to read.d.d.d.   ã   Use attachments copiously. Opening an attachment takes a significantamount of time, and their existence can also be easily overlooked in someemail readers. To waste even more of other peoples’ time, you couldforward, as an attachment, an email item which itself has attachments; oralternatively use attachments which themselves embed other documents.  ã   Send huge attachments, but don’t label the version number . It can be such  fun trying to find out which is the latest draft of a seventy-page manual whenyou’ve been sent seventeen different versions at different times (copied, of course, twenty times each by everyone who has ‘Replied to all’) ã   Put a simple message in a Word document and send it as an attachment .This means you can't scan it, you can't easily reply to it quoting the srcinaland it clogs up storage. To ensure that the recipient has the maximumtrouble in finding the email at a later date, ensure: o   that the subject gives no indication of what the attachment is about… o   …and similarly makes no reference to its contents in the body text of the email.  e-tiquette Page 3 of 8 o   This means that your recipient can’t search for the individual emailwithin their email reader and will have to do it by opening each email,then opening each attachment until they find the right one (amongstthousands of old emails). You can waste hours of everyone’s time inthis way. ã   Bury the question you need answering in the middle of a lot of other text.  The recipient won’t notice it so easily, and will therefore fail to respond. Youcan then waste his/her time by demanding an urgent  answer in a separateemail (copying the first one of course, without picking out the question atissue) so they then have to wade yet again through the entire email —attachments and all. Better still, have two buried questions, then email themto request an answer without saying which of the questions hasn’t beenanswered. Best of all, have ten attachments, of which just two contain thequestions. (You can have hours of fun with this.) Now let’s do it properly…   Cut down on unnecessary emails ã   Only use ‘Reply to all’ when you really need to — and even then, it may behelpful to prune out some recipients who really don’t need to hear yourresponse. ã   Check the recipient list to see who has already received the email beforeyou forward it.   ã   Have an office policy about replying to emails. In some cases it is helpful andcourteous to reply ‘OK’ or ‘Thanks’ to acknowledge that the email has beenreceived, read and/or acted upon, but you don’t need flowery language, a‘Dear XYZ’, or even a footer. It may be better not to reply — this saves your   time writing it, their  time reading it, bandwidth to send it, and storage space, ã   It’s nice, human, and part of team bonding if there is a certain amount of humorous interchange in emails. But don’t use it to excess , and certainlydelete previous email contents if you are going to do this. And delete thefooters. You don’t need them for jokes. Small is beautiful — at least, in footers. Get it? Use headers appropriately ã   Ensure the header (title) describes the contents. WARNING: if confidentialityis an issue, remember that some email readers are set to show the headerand first line on the desktop for a few seconds — and you can’t determinehow a recipient’s machine is set. Under these circumstances it may be betterto use initials rather than proper names in the header. (I have seen privateemails like this pop up in the middle of a projected presentation to anaudience…) ã   If the subject of the emails has started to change, give it a new header(title) and thus start a new thread . Then you (and everyone else) can seewhat you are doing, can respond appropriately, and can find it again if theyneed to.  e-tiquette Page 4 of 8 Keep the content clean (in three ways!) 1.   Verbal and attachment content  ã   Never include anything in an email (words, expressions, descriptions)that you wouldn’t be happy to see on the front page of your morningpaper . Don’t forget — someone might also copy it to one of the socialmedia, and from there it might go viral — with your name anddepartment still attached. ã   Don’t attach pictures or video, unless you’d be happy seeing them in thenewspaper, either. (That video of the drunken office party – so funny,especially now it’s on YouTube.) ã   You may find that your ‘private’ email conversations are eventuallyreleased to the public, perhaps by order of the courts during a policeinvestigation; by a disgruntled work colleague; or during an investigationinto the handling of a patient or a co-worker. So use language anddescriptions that are capable of being reproduced in a court of lawwithout embarrassment or allegations of libel or discrimination. 2.   Reduce the size of your emails ã   Wherever possible, delete the trail of the previous emails that areautomatically included when you ‘Reply’, unless they are vital to thediscussion being carried on. Doing this will reduce storage space, reduceclutter in the email and make everything easier to read, locate andrespond to. It will also minimise the chance of inadvertently sendingprevious private information or personal comments to the wrong person. ã   Less is more : try to say what you want to in less than five lines. It’llprobably get read immediately, instead of being put aside for later. ã   Try to avoid extensive footers (‘signatures’) . These are the bane of otherpeoples’ in boxes. You may need a legal disclaimer about ‘if you aren’t theintended recipient.’ Do it in really small type and with the minimum of words.And no pictures, graphics or advertising.  However, you should always include a minimum set of data – name,title, department and contact details. Remember, it will take up lessspace in a sequence of emails if you have fewer lines in your footer, butallow each to be quite long.To alter your footer, in Outlook 2003 go to Tools > Options > Mail Format > Signature In later versions of Outlook go to   File>Options>Mail>signatures The dialogue box is identical on both occasions.Don’t forget to set up your footer on your Blackberry/iPad/Mobile phoneas well, if you answer incoming emails this way.  
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