How to Use E-mail and Distribution Lists
Saying the exact same thing to each person over and over can be frustrating, tiring, and even boring, but to keep everyone on the same page, they all have to hear the same thing. Office memos came about for the same reason. Keeping all employees on the same page is a difficult challenge, but to prevent rumors and avoid leaving someone out, mass communication has been a tremendous help.
A telephone tree can be a great thing, too, when you need to quickly spread the word throughout a family, but we all know from playing the game telephone how information can get twisted, turned, and completely messed up. Someone adds their opinion and pretty soon that opinion has been passed along as fact.
If a situation like this has gotten out of control, or it is complicated and family members who don't understand medical issues will potentially get it all mixed up, a written document can be quite handy. For those who don't have e-mail, you can print out your messages and mail them.
By using e-mail, everyone will get the same information straight from the horse's mouth. Again, you can write and send it at anytime of the day or night convenient to you. You can write it one time and send it to a whole group of people all at once using a distribution list, as opposed to adding in each recipient individually each time.
If you don't know how to set up a distribution list, click on the help menu of your e-mail software. Most have some way of making distribution lists. This might also be known as setting up a group and using the group contact name in your “To:” selection.
For instance, in Outlook 2003, you would click on the menu “File” then select “New.” To the right you'll see “Distribution List.” Click on it and in the new box that opens you'll give the list a name and then click on “Select Members.” This will bring up a list of your contacts and you double-click on the names you want to add. Click “OK” when you have all the people you want in this list, and then “Save and Close” from the next menu.
When you want to send e-mail to this list, click on the “To” in your new e-mail and double-click on the group name in your contacts list. If you want to hide recipients' names or e-mail addresses, add the distribution list to the “BCC” box instead of the “To” box. Then click “OK” and your distribution list will be added to the box. If you have used the BCC, you'll only see the title of your distribution list's name.
You will be asked to give this list of contacts a name. Using different titles that make sense to you will help you remember who the members of each list are. You might want to title the list that includes your family members by the last name of your parents, and title another list that includes your spouse's family members using his last name.