Managing the Email Monster

One of the most common challenges in today’s business is managing our emails. If I told you that you could get back 20 minutes in your day, would that give you enough incentive to change your email habits?

I challenge you to adopt this one best practice for 30 days; title your email subject line with one of the following:

• Action (example: Action: Marketing Plan Completion - due by COB 6/15/10)
• Info (example: Info; Updated Marketing Plan)
• Calendar (example: Calendar; Marketing Plan Symposium) – and if it pertains to a calendar invite that you previously sent, consider adding the information to the calendar invite and sending an update.
• Response Requested (example: Response Requested; Modifications to Marketing Plan)

The subject line of all e-mails should clearly state the subject and intent of the email, thereby summarizing the message. Action emails should include the due date. The “To” recipients are the owners of the action. Consider who should be cc’d and address appropriately.

Can you imagine how efficiently you could manage your email if everyone adopted this best practice? At a quick glance you could review your emails and know exactly what the purpose of each email was and when you needed to respond. Together we can begin to change our email culture.

Let’s talk again on July 12 and see if this best practice added more time back in your day.


  1. As a former employee of Microsoft, we used this practice. It works well, but one note to may receive an email with the title "Action: Set up New Hire with Computer", but when you forward it on to someone else, change the Subject to be for them "Information: Jane Doe's computer has been set up"

  2. I completely agree with your suggestion of changing the subject line. I have a few more tips to share regarding emails that I will post in the near future.
    Thanks for your comment Wendy, keep them coming!

  3. I often have to "bin" emails that I receive. Sometimes it helps to change the subject line; it makes the email easier to find if I need to reference it at a later date.

  4. I have been using this suggestion and love it. I have noticed others picking up on it also. I hope this continues to catch on. It has really help me! Thanks