How to Tell If You Stink at Managing Email


Inc. Well has done plenty of posts before about staying on top of your avalanche of correspondences in your virtual inbox, but those are all pretty worthless, frankly, if you can't admit that you have a problem.

So consider this an intervention of sorts.

Like Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the All Saints' Church, has posted a list of the seven deadly sins that awful emailers exhibit, most likely unknowingly. They range from a complete lack of pride ("don't treat every email like it deserves your attention") to greed ("signing up for newsletters you're never going to read").

The thing is, in my opinion, many of these sins also apply to email marketing campaigns, particularly wrath ("punishing your neighbor by wasting their time").

In either case, a good reference document is the Email Charter, which, if the former was Martin Luther's famous document, then this is Moses descending from the mount with the 10 commandments. If you haven't read this before, you should, because it has 10 common sense email practices that are usually foolishly overlooked. My favorites are quashing attachments in emails ("time is wasted trying to see if there's something to open") and obliterating open-ended questions ("it is asking a lot to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of turgid text followed by "Thoughts?")

For what it's worth, if you're a freelance writer, stop putting those open-ended questions at the end of your articles, too. I always chop them out of pieces I'm editing, and it's just amateurish. We live in the Internet age: It's implied people can leave a comment or offer their thoughts to anything they read. You don't have to deign to invite them to do so.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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