Sunday, January 31, 2010

Subject Line Stress

For the past year or so I've basically stopped using subject lines for my emails whenever possible. Anytime I email someone who I know will open my email no matter what, I just leave it blank. There's such pressure to come up with a creative, clever subject line, that I just gave up (because that's how I roll). I also occasionally have to come up with subject lines for our newsletters at work which causes even more anxiety. I just couldn't take it anymore.

But this blank subject line business has started to make me feel boring and lazy, so I decided to go back to subject line writing. Only this time I decided my subject lines would be painfully literal ... not creative or clever. Oftentimes, this means that I don't even decide on a subject line until after I've finished the email so that I can come up with the most accurate subject line possible. Gone is the pressure to trick people into opening my email with a witty play on words or clever phrase. What you see is what you get.

I'm sure you're wondering, Couldn't this literal subject line writing someday become as stressful as the clever subject line writing? The answer is yes, maybe, but it's not as likely so quit bugging me!

So for now, I'm no longer feeling overwhelmed by subject line pressure and, I have to say, it's made me pretty happy. Now what to do about my blog post title anxiety ...


Adam said...

I can totally relate. It's hard to maintain a reputation for creativity. I know at work I've moved toward using the subject line to provide context, so the reader can be on the same page and jump right into the body of the email. Sometimes I just write a series of keywords to friends, like "girls, The Office, bowling, weekend plans."

Even if they're painfully literal, they can still be useless. The key is making them meaningful for immediate processing or for later recall.

Michelle said...

Emails aren't that important. IMing and Twitter/Facebook statuses are the new email. Save your creativity for something else.

On a more serious note, I wonder if you're just tired of thinking about emails from looking at all these email newsletters all day.

Ashlee said...

My advisor tries to contain all the content for his entire email in the subject line. Rarely does he actually put anything into the body of an email.