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Ever heard anyone say, “I don’t get enough email at work! I wish that I received more!”  Probably not.  Even if you work in a small business or work for yourself, you probably receive an incredible amount of email.  Email is fast, efficient, and effective, but, because it is all those things, it is incredibly easy to create a high workload that seems to be only email.


Here are some tips and recommendations to improve email communication, limit your email inbox size, and improve the quality of your email communication.

  1. Use Easily Understood Headers in Your Subject. Using some easily understood headers in your subject line helps your recipients categorize and determine how to respond to your email and manage their own workload. Use this as examples to get you started.
    • For Information
    • Input Needed
    • Project Update
    • Customer Problem
    • Decision Required
    • Personnel Issue
    • Success Story
    • Exception to Policy
    • New Product / Service / Innovation Idea
    • Question from Senior Leader
      These are just a sample to get you started. The use of easily understood and non-abbreviated headers helps people manage their own email which then helps you manage your email inbox.  Finally, create a cheat sheet of these subject lines in the cover of your notebook.

  2. Follow A Precise Format for Different Message Types. Standard headers are just the first step for improved efficiency. Next, create a consistent format for your messages that employs header numbers, header abbreviations, and strategic spacing. This format will make your messages easier to read, easier to follow, and, vitally important, easier to read on a smart device. Follow this standard email message format as a starting point.
    • Background.
    • Facts & Statistics Bearing on The Problem.
    • Other Senior Leader Feedback.
    • Issue Timeline (If required).
    • Customer Feedback.
    • Recommendation.
    • Approval Required by This Date.
      Use bold and spacing within the message to make it easier to read on a mobile device. Over time, the use of a stand format makes it easier for others to quickly read and respond to your messages.

  3. Store Your Message Type’s in Different Signature Formats. Use your email program’s signature settings to store this format for consistency and ease of use. Some messages may require all, some, or none of these headers. Storing different versions of these headers is a quick, consistent, and easy way to make sure that you retain and follow the format. If you write lots of messages from your smartphone, then store 10-12 template messages with your preferred format in your “Draft” file folder for ease of use.

  4. Help Your Boss & Team Adopt a Format. Getting your boss on board to using a standard format may be a challenge, but they will see the benefit immediately. This is a great way to help “manage up” to your boss and help create more effective team communication.

  5. Use A Survey to Gather Feedback from A Large Group. Receiving consistent and easily actionable feedback from a large group is a consistent problem in email. Use of a survey is the best way to gather feedback that allows team members to answer quickly, input issues, and then allow easy incorporation of feedback to the team’s project.


Improving your email communication is the best way to become more effective at work!


Share your ways to communicate better at work!


Related Information:


  1. 9 Ways to Execute Your Post-Military Career Search and Transition
  2. Five Ways to Demonstrate You Are Ready for a Career Promotion
  3. How Military Skills Demystify Corporate Culture
  4. USAA Leaving the Military Page – Advice, Tools & More


About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 320 articles in over 170 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and