Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 96

Email overload -- real

In the New Yorker article, Bill Gates is said to spend at least two hours a day reading and responding to his email. I'm surprised it's not more. Many people in business find that they spend half their time or more dealing with email. You can do your part to ease this problem by remembering Rule 4 -- Respect other people's time -- and sending mail only when it needs to be sent.

Don't waste your colleagues' time by copying them on notes that don't affect them. (On the other hand, do keep them informed about projects they're working on. Don't assume that they already know what's happening. Remember Felix Unger's injunction: When we assume, we make an ASS out of U and ME.) (Endnote #19)

Don't send email telling people that you put something in their paper in-basket. This is a killer time-waster and rude to boot, since it assumes that the recipient isn't going to read his or her snail mail. If you think the paper you're sending looks so unimportant that no one will read it, attach a paper note explaining why it is important. If it's not important, don't send it.

An exception to this rule might occur when you know that the recipient is a snail-mail ignorer (see below). It's also acceptable to send a short email message alerting someone that you've sent her U.S. mail.

Try not to send a string of related messages in a row because you forgot an important point (e.g., the time or date of a meeting), or resend the same document several times because you corrected an error. Everyone makes mistakes, and one of the great things about electronic communications is that they make correcting errors so simple. But remember that it's easier on your readers (as well as making you look better) if you get it right the first time.

Finally, I believe it was Einstein who said something like "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." That goes double for email. Whether you're asking or answering a question, try to


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