Tame Email Tyranny with EOM Subject Line

Does email rule your life? Are you incessantly checking emails — even on the Labor Day holiday weekend — hoping to keep your inbox whittled to your standard for an acceptable number of messages requiring some kind of action at some point? (The number I’m learning to live with is about 150.)

In the Aug. 28, 2014, New York Times, op-ed contributor Clive Thompson cited a McKinsey study showing that white-collar workers “spend 28 percent of their workweek slogging through the stuff.”

Thompson notes that workplace behavior authority and University of California, Irvine, Professor Gloria Mark has found that such workers “check their messages an average of 74 times a day.”

Here’s a tiny tip that can contribute to reducing the need for your recipients to open every email from you. I know from my limited (so far) use of it that it’s not universally recognized. Maybe working together, we can change that.

When you have an email that requires a brief response, put that short message in the subject line followed by the notation EOM: end of message. As TechTarget succinctly points out, “The entire message is visible in the subject line, with EOM signaling that the message is wholly contained there.”

Brad Isaac on lifehacker.com further explains, “EOM not only saves you and your recipient time; it forces you to create a better subject line, one that you can cut/paste into calendars, task lists and notes. As others learn the technique, your email load — and theirs — should lighten. And you can pretty much count on the email getting read, as almost everyone at least scans email subjects.”

Here are some samples of messages that lend themselves to EOM:

Safety Mtng Sept 15 @ 2 PM Board Room EOM
Confirming Receipt of Mold Machine Parts EOM
Lot B Closed Fri Sept 21 for Resurfacing EOM
Aug 4 Company Picnic Moved to McClendon Park EOM
Only Prez Takes Media Inquires Re: Chem Spill EOM

Now that Labor Day is over, how about laboring less by starting to use EOM when it’s appropriate. If you think those you most commonly communicate with by email won’t recognize it, an introductory message might help them get on board. You’ll both benefit by using the shortcut.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)