E-mail in an attention deficient world.

More and more I find myself quickly reading e-mails and trying to figure out the one place where I can add value to the conversation. Rather than replying to the whole e-mail I just reply with the critical bit of knowledge I can provide and let the other conversation topics just lay on the floor.

The problem is that in order to do that I need to frame that response to make it clear that I am just responding to a specific part of that original e-mail. One of the things that I am a proponent of is “one thought per e-mail” where you spin off a thread of conversation for each discrete topic rather than layering on additional concepts.

I believe that this helps readers of e-mails because:

  1. They can check-out of the thread early as soon as it drops below a certain level of relevance.
  2. You can be more targeted with the thread in the first place.
  3. Helps keep the thread on topic, if the thread is very focused it isn’t going to ramble on into something that is less relevant.
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2 thoughts on “E-mail in an attention deficient world.

  1. Neil

    What I do when responding to a problem in email… is start a blog post with a subjugated meme…
    The beauty of that is that I have a permanent public (or private) record of the problem and its solution, along with the discussion contribution tool which is appropriate… and of course in the email response i send the link to the post or the RSS link… or both.

    The beauty of this is that I dont have to answer the same question 50 times… I just point them at the blog that is appropriate…

    Hope it helps Mitch.

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