The Email Charter is a new initiative that aims to improve the quality of email communications.
The Email Charter was created by Jane Wulf and Chris Anderson of TED. It is a manifesto to promote digital humanity and encourage people to spend less time on email and give each other some slack.
For years, we have been pointing people towards it. The Charter website was recently shut down. We created our own version, based on the original. It is here.
Email is a constant distraction. The hours and hours that we spend on it make it more difficult for our friends, colleagues, and coworkers. This can only be reversed by mutual agreement. This is why we need new rules and this Charter
1. Respect Recipients’ Time
This is the basic rule. It is your responsibility as the message sender to reduce the amount of time it takes to process your email. Even if this means that you take longer to send the email.
2. You don’t have to respond quickly or slowly.
Let’s agree to give each other some grace. You don’t have to respond quickly just because you can. It’s normal for replies to take some time due to the volume of emails we all receive. It’s not the intention of anyone to be rude, but they might just be focused and don’t want to seem brusque. This is possible without having to be always on. We just want to have our lives back!
3. Make subject lines and content clearer
Begin with a subject line that clearly identifies the topic. Include a status category [Info],[Action],[Time Sens] [Low priority]. Assure your sentences are clear and concise. If your email must be more than five sentences then make sure that the first sentence explains the main reason for writing. Avoid using strange fonts or colors.
Also read: 10 Best Email Drip Campaign Examples
4. Be clear of open-ended questions
Sending someone an email with four paragraphs of text and then “Thoughts?” is asking too much even the most well-intentioned, but unanswered questions such as “How can you help?” are not always straightforward. may not be that helpful. Email generosity is about simplifying simple-to-answer queries. “Can I best help by 1) calling, 2) visiting, or 3) staying out of it?” !”
5. Slash Surplus cc’s
CC’s can be likened to mating bunnies. You are exponentially increasing the total response time for every recipient you add. This is not something to take lightly. If there are multiple recipients please do not default to ‘Reply all’. Perhaps you only need to cc one person from the original thread. You could do nothing.
6. Tend to the thread
Emails can have a meaning only if they are understood in the right context. It is therefore a good idea to respond to the thread. It is rare for a thread to be extended beyond 3 emails. Be sure to remove irrelevant information before you send it. You can also make a call.
7. Attack Attachments
Do not use graphics files for logos or signatures. It is a waste of time trying to find something to open. It’s even worse to send text as an attachment when it could have been in the body.
8. These Gifts are available from EOM NNTR
You can express your message in as little as six words by simply writing it in the subject line. Then, add EOM ( End Of Message) to finish. This will save the recipient from having to open the email. It is a great act of generosity to end a note by saying “No need for you to reply” or NNTR. Although acronyms can be confusing as much as they help, these two are exemplary and should be widely adopted.
9. Reduce Contentless Responses
Not all emails need to be replied to, Especially not those that are clear answers. A thank you an email stating that “Thanks for your message.” I’m in.” You don’t need to respond “Great!”It took someone else 30 seconds.
We’d all be able to use less email if we agreed to do so. You might consider putting aside half of your workday to not go online. You can also make a commitment not to send emails on weekends. In your spare time, add an auto-responder that refers to this charter. Don’t forget the smell of roses.
How acting alone is not the solution
Original creators of the Email Charter explained why we need to all work together on this:
” “The email problem is a contemporary tragedy in the commons. A community must come together to agree on new rules in order to fix a “commons” problem.
Email overload is something that we inadvertently do to one another. This problem cannot be solved by one person. This will lead to you ignoring, delaying, and rushing responses to many messages. You could end up annoying people or missing an opportunity. This is a stressful prospect.
If we can work together to change the ground rules, we might be able to make stress disappear.
An Email Charter is a great idea. Its primary purpose is to address the root cause of the problem: email taking longer to reply to than it took to create.
Each rule contributes to this goal. They will eventually solve the problem if they are accepted.