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Do people routinely send you mail prefaced with "Urgent:" or "Important:" on the subject? Here's something to try....

By Andrew Pollack on 11/17/2006 at 01:58 PM EST

Do people routinely send you mail prefaced with "Urgent:" or "Important:" on the subject? Do you know how often? Does it work? I have to tell you it makes very little difference to me on how soon I read the mail unless it isn't something I've ever seen that particular sender do. My immediate reaction -- one I've learned to control most of the time -- is to purposely ignore it and make an effort not to respond any faster. There must still be something left of my teen years deep in there somewhere.

I did a little test today. I chose two names, both from people who send me mail tagged with this kind of thing more often than makes sense, and did a quick and dirty check to see just how frequently this was done. I tried -- with as little effort as possible -- to filter the results down to only messages sent by those people rather than forwarded by them and to exclude replies.

To find the messages which contained the commonly used "notice me" tags, I used this search formula in my "All Documents" view....

[From] contains "Lastname" and ( (([Subject] contains "urgent") or ([Subject] contains "please read") or ([Subject] contains "important") or ([Subject] contains "critical")) and ( not ( ( [Subject] contains "re:") or ([Subject] contains "fw:"))))

Then, I did the exact same search only I inserted a "not" statement to exclude those phrases.....

[From] contains "lastname" and ( not (([Subject] contains "urgent") or ([Subject] contains "please read") or ([Subject] contains "important") or ([Subject] contains "critical")) and ( not ( ( [Subject] contains "re:") or ([Subject] contains "fw:"))))

In my test, the two names I checked turned out to have used one of those three phrases to preface new email about 11% of the time in one case and 6% in the other -- and the pattern held true doing a search of recent documents in my active mail file, and old documents over a long time in my archive.

Give this a try in your own mail file -- use the right last name for you, and see how it comes out. If you feel up to it, post here with your result.

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