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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Learn about topics ranging from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Note: Monday Productivity Pointers is currently on a break, but stay tuned for new tutorials!
My name is Jess Stratton, and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. Last week I talked about how to write an effective email that gets read. While I talked a little bit at the end about how you absolutely must include a call to action if there is one, and when I say a call to action I mean a task that the other person needs to do. This week I'm going to be focusing on that call to action, and how to make sure it happens. So here are some tips. The first one is, don't lump an email with a call to action into an email with another call to action.
The main reason for this, is that people have their own email processing method. And if they handle one action using that method, the second one may get lost. For example, if they use Gmail labels to filter and act on any actionable items in their mail, if there's two per email, they'll never know which one is going to get acted on. So it's always easiest to just send out one call to action per email. Because remember, the whole point is to make sure that it gets seen and done.
Boldface your action so it's very clear. It's not the other person's job to interpret what you think they need to do. It's your job to communicate effectively your expectations of them. And on the side note of boldfacing, don't boldface anything else in your email, otherwise it will totally diminish the importance of the action item and it may even make it less visible, not more. Consider setting a deadline for your action, this reinforces the fact that you are holding them accountable to get that action item to you, which will make it more likely that it will happen.
And also, your communicating very clearly when they need to get it to you by. The key is to send short emails with one action item in it. So if you combine these tips with the tips from last week on how to effectively send an email that gets read, your emails will become nice and short, straight to the point, and all your action items will be clear. In fact, remember the importance of the subject line. You can absolutely put your action required in the subject line, and use the rest of the email to put the supporting info in it.
Finally, if you're sending out this email to multiple people, you can still follow that same rule. You need to be very clear as to who needs to do what task, and still follow the only one action per email per person. So in this case, it's okay to have more than one action in the email as long as they're all to separate people. But as soon as you have another action item to the same person, then definitely you'll want to break that one into a separate email and send it off.
So hopefully, with these combined tips of this week and last week, all your emails will get read and all your action items will be handled.
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