Make Your eMail Subject Line Work Harder

Establish Subject Line Protocols

inboxAs you read this post, just imagine me enjoying a warm Caribbean breeze with my bride and a cool cocktail by my side.

Old habits die hard and a week in the sun has not stopped me from checking emails.  That said, I that tend to address emails that use a system of subject line codes to help me quickly understand due dates and email requirements before wading scanning through the rest of the stack.

Save yourself and team a lot of time and implement subject line codes within your network ASAP.  Then blast through your emails and get out there and enjoy all the summer you can.

Here are a few email subject line codes and examples to help you get started.

[EOM]–End of Message

If you can convey the entire message in less than 60-ish characters, put the whole message in the subject line and close the subject line with [EOM]. That way, your recipient knows everything he or she needs to know without even opening the email.  For example, this email with just a subject line and no body.

RE: Weekly review is at 3 p.m. in Conference Room 3 [EOM]

 

[NRR]–No Reply Required

A stronger version than the old standby FYI (For Your Information), NRR (No Reply Required) makes it explicit that you do not require a reply to this email.

Once someone sees that there is no “response overhead” in reading the email, it’s more likely to get opened.

RE: Agenda attached for weekly review [NRR]

 

[Y/N]–Yes/No Question

Most people can attack a yes/no decision with more alacrity than something more complicated or multifaceted. If you just need to know if someone wants chicken or fish, or whether 3 p.m. works better than 4 p.m., use [Y/N] to get your answer more quickly.

RE: Decision needed on location of weekly review [Y/N]

BODY: Do you want to meet at Starbucks or in the conference room?

 

[RB+ ]–Reply By (insert timeline)

Need a reply by tomorrow? Tell the recipient up front by putting [RB+1] in the subject line. A week from now = [RB+7], a month = [RB+30], etc. Need it today? [RB+0]. An hour from now? [RB+0.1].

RE: Will you be attending the weekly review? [RB+2] [EOM]

 

[AB+ ]–Action By (insert timeline)

Works the same way as Reply By, except that this code alerts the recipient that there is an action embedded somewhere in the email that he or she needs to take by a certain date/time. E.g.:

 

RE: I need the agenda for next week’s weekly review [AB+5] [EOM]

These two codes together are incredible productivity promoters, as they can be used by the recipient to plan needed activities in advance.

 

[PYR]–Per Your Request

If you’re sending someone something previously asked for (in other words, your email isn’t initiating any new actions), let the person know right up front. e.g.:

RE: Agenda attached for weekly review [PYR]

Homework:

  • Review your sent file. How many of these codes could you have used in the last 7 days to improve your team’s recipient’s productivity?
  • Pick two codes per week and start populating your email subject lines.  Most are self-explanatory other may require 60 seconds.

 

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