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Top tips from Mesmo Consultancy (and Associates) on how to save time and improve business and personal performance by ‘Taking Control of your Inbox’ and using proper business email etiquette.

Notebooks to reduce business email overload and improve wellbeing

Thursday September 28th, 2017, 5:04 pm

I advocate that using a conventional notebook is one way to reduce business email overload. What will you do with an extra 45 minutes a day every working day? That’s what I asked participants at my PA-Life Training session this week. The top three responses were:

  • Take a lunch break.
  • Sleep more.
  • Have a walk.

Pukka Pads one of my sponsors provided some executive pocket notebooks as prizes for the day. One went to the ‘walk’ response. Why?

  1. Walking improves our wellbeing and fitness.
  2. Conventional notebooks help reduce business email overload. For example, when asked to do something, take ownership and remember (or make a note of the request) rather than asking the other person to email you.
  3. Pen and paper helps improve our powers of observation and creativity. A friend taught me always to look up at the tops of buildings to see interesting architectural features. Yet how many of us walk with our heads in a screen and see only the pavement? Conventional notebooks let you observe without worrying about battery-life and being distracted by new email notifications etc.

The digital invasion was predicted to kill off the stationary business.  However, look around a meeting or the office generally. It never ceases to amaze me the high percentage of business people who use a pen and notebook instead of a digital device. Recent statistics revealed that paperback book sales are rising instead of declining.  Judging by the number of notebooks and pens on office desks and given away as marketing gizmos I suspect the same is happening to stationary. Let’s hope notebooks and pens continue to help reduce the rising volume of emails too.

What do you prefer to use when either walking or in a meeting – pen and notebook or electronic device?

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Business Email Management Articles of Note – September 2017

Friday September 1st, 2017, 4:41 pm

The topic of well-being and email overload has featured several times over the past month. Some are arguing for old fashioned mobile phones which act solely as a phone. Whether or not this will solve the problems of email overload and digital addiction is debatable. Perhaps it is more about educating ourselves to use our smart devices smartly.

Then there is the thorny questions of whether or not it is wise to include emojis (eg smiley faces) in emails and how long before social media takes over from email. Last but by no means least 90% of us are scammed by email every month. Read on for our top five articles of note during August.

1.Taking control of your inbox in a healthy way.

Julia Schmidt PA to the Chief Executive of Basfarm a Norwegian IT service provider and undertaking a study of well-being in the workplace. As part of this she interviewed Monica. Click here for the interview and her top tips on the subject.

2. Has the smart phone destroyed a generation?

The average person checks their smart phone every six minutes according to Nancy Colier. Recent research from the USA (Professor Jean Twenge) argues that the smartphone is destroying a complete generation. They are more comfortable with technology than people than any previous generation, many are on the brink of a nervous break down.

A must read for anyone with an interest in the impact of smart phones on Millenials.

What’s your take?

3.Email still dominates work and personal communications. So you thought email might disappear soon? Think again according to the latest research from Adobe. Whilst face-to-face communications are starting to rise, emails continues to dominate with over social media. Their survey found that people are spending slightly less time checking email than a year ago. Interesting 62% prefer to check their emails on a desktop. Only half ever achieve inbox-zero and as we’ve discussed before it is questionable if this a productive exercise. Meanwhile 43% still check emails in the bathroom. And this from a company with a vested interest in social media! Makes me think we are still very much addicted to our smartphones and email and that there are few real business alternatives to email.

4.The dark side of a smiley. A new global study reveals that far from creating a warm friendly email, an emoji (emoticon) make you look less competent. We have been against their inclusion for years so this just back-up our previous opinion and findings. A thought worth keeping in mind for those who run induction courses for new graduate joiners. Keep all the emoji (smiley faces etc) for social emails only.

5.Nine in ten hit by email scams every month. Considering how much is written about reducing the risk over identity theft and cyber crime this is a very demoralising figure. Does no one read and take note? PayPal, Banks and HMRC are the top three bogus emails sent and it is often younger people who are worst hit. What does this say about their addiction to smartphone? Click here for our top tips on avoiding such scams.

Is email addiction, email overload, email etiquette effecting the performance and well-being of your workforce? Call or email us now to discuss how our email best practice workshops and consultancy service can help you.

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De-stress whilst reducing business email overload. Guest Post by Lucy Miller

Wednesday August 30th, 2017, 11:36 am

How do you de-stress whilst reducing business email overload? After all it is easy to get sucked into the inbox and look up three hours later feeling stressed.  What have you achieved?   Maybe a clean inbox but was the time productive?

In this guest blog from Lucy Miller she provides five top ways to de-stress to improve performance whilst at the same time reducing the email overload factor.

With so many tips out there about healthy living habits, it can be tough to determine what advice is actually worth following. One key aspect of wellness that many people overlook is that it’s not enough to just be in good physical shape; you need to keep track of your mental and emotional health as well. Here are five steps you can take to make you healthier, both physically and mentally and especially whilst you deal with your email.

1: Keep a Food Diary

The problem with diets is not only that most people have difficulty following them, but many diets, even if followed strictly, won’t necessarily help you get into better shape.

A better tactic is to keep a food diary where your record everything you eat, including and especially snacks or desserts that you’re embarrassed about and want to cut out. The reason a food diary is so helpful is that it makes you acknowledge what your diet is like and identify foods that you need to eat less of, as well as nutrients you may be lacking in your diet.

Dealing with business email overload – don’t snack mindlessly when checking emails, make sure you eat what is good for you.

2: Get Sufficient and Regular Sleep

Nutritionists and health gurus are always reiterating the importance of sleep, but many people don’t realize all the aspects of your health that sleep impacts. Not only can regular sleep reduce stress, improve your immune system, and bolster your mood, but it also keeps you functioning at optimal physical and mental levels.

The key is to not only get enough sleep — at least eight hours a night for most adults — but also to keep a regular sleep schedule. Inconsistent sleep can have a negative impact on various aspects on both your physical and mental health, and will also make it more difficult to get as much sleep as you need every night.

Dealing with business email overload – set boundaries outside which you disconnect and do not look at the inbox (and social media).

3: Monitor Your Stress Levels

Stress is another factor that can have a huge impact on multiple levels of wellness. People with high levels of stress are not only more likely to gain weight and have difficulty sleeping, but are also more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional conditions.

A good way to avoid over-stressing yourself is to regularly check your emotional and mental health, which can be done many ways, including taking online mental health assessments. People with high levels of stress will almost always experience problems with their mental and emotional health, so keeping tabs on your mood, energy levels, focus and concentration, and other other factors can help you determine when you’re becoming too stressed, and what your biggest stressors might be.

Dealing with business email overload – as you feel your muscles tighten stop, take a break and exercise even if only for a few minutes.

4: Cultivate Your Intellect

Regularly challenge yourself intellectually and keep your mental skills sharp. There are many ways to accomplish this. Reading regularly is a great way to keep your mind sharp, or you can work on mentally simulating activities like puzzles or crosswords.

Another easy option is to get into discussions or debates with friends about topics that interest you both, as this will help hone your critical thinking skills. Anything that challenges you mentally will fit the bill, so find intellectual activities that you enjoy, whatever form they take.

Dealing with business email overload – set aside some me time when you do something to challenge you mentally.

5: Drink More Water

Most people aren’t getting enough water on a daily basis. Sixty percent of our bodies are made up of water.  Water is essential to most bodily functions, from waste removal to carrying nutrients and oxygen through the bloodstream. We are constantly losing water throughout the day, so it’s important to replenish your water levels regularly. Experts recommend drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day, although the exact requirements for your body can vary based on individual differences.

Dealing with business email overload – sip a drink after dealing with every 20 emails.

By following these simple steps, you can make healthy lifestyle changes starting today. So many people make the resolution to get healthier, but forget to focus on all aspects of health, not just the physical. By keeping tabs on your physical, mental and emotional health and making healthy choices, you can maximize your all-around wellness and performance.

Lucy Miller is a nutrition student, marathon runner, and a passionate writer for Mind Your Zen, a brain nutrition supplement brand. She contributes on a number of blog sharing useful health tips from her research as a nutrition student. She can be reached at lucy@mindyourzen.com

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Business Email Management Articles of Note – July 2017

Saturday July 22nd, 2017, 9:07 am

This months business email management articles of note feature one by ourselves on how to manage the instant reply syndrome yet still make key clients feel loved.  There are three on business email etiquette and the importance of communicating clearly if you want people to notice your email without being pushy. There are two on various aspects of cyber crime from house deposits going to imposter’s bank accounts and the penalty for forwarding confidential emails and then trying to delete the evidence.

1. Managing the Instant Reply Syndrome. You are working on an important (maybe time critical) task, yet people still expect an instant reply to their email. Based on our recent work in the independent schools sector here are some ways to manage expectations including those of your most important clients and colleagues.

2. Use stories to highlight your companies purpose. From Erica Keswin my fellow member of the Information Overload Research Group  IORG this fascinating article highlights the importance on story telling to communicate your message clearly. Although emails should be short, using a client/colleague comment in the opening sentence can help your message stand out.

3. How I lost my 25 year battle against corporate claptrap. How can you commit 110%? It’s mathematical nonsense as Lucy Kellaway points out. Lucy has been the Financial Times business columnist who can be depended on to de-bunk current management guff. In her last column based on examples collected over the years she provides examples of how to write pure meaningless flannel. There are salient lessons on email etiquette to be drawn from this article. Never use long/complex words when a short one will do. Emails should be succinct and structured if you want to avoid endless rounds of email ping-pong and potential email wars. See Mesmo Consultancy’s recent video on the 5Ss of business email management etiquette.

Thank you Lucy Kellaway for writing the introduction to Brilliant Email and being subjected to a Mesmo Consultancy Email Inbox Audit from which we learnt some lessons.

4  Why those small words in an email say a lot about you.  A timely reminder that how you write emails is a picture of you and your organisation.  It’s your digital dress code.  So why spoil a good suit by wearing war paint on your face and scruffy shoes.  That is essentially what you are doing when you forget to include a greeting and use a sloppy sign-off.  Check your business email etiquette.  Is it up to the mark?

5. Cyber crooks loot millions set aside for house sales. It never ceases to amaze us at Mesmo Consultancy how people still fall for the simplest of cyber crime tricks. House sellers transferring deposits found that Instead of the money going to the solicitors they went to an imposter’s bank account. When undertaking such transactions always transfer a very small amount first to check they arrive in the correct account. Will we ever learn?

6. Employee sentenced to six weeks imprisonment for deleting confidential emails. So you think you can delete emails and go un-noticed? Think again. This article contains lessons for both employers and employee about sending confidential information via email.

 

Are these business email management issues which you or your organisation face? Call or email us now to discuss how our email best practice workshops and consultancy service can help you.

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Email Free Vacation – will you have one?

Friday July 21st, 2017, 11:39 am

It’s that time of year, many of us are either on or planning a vacation. The perpetual question is whether or not to have an email free vacation.

We found that 80% said that dealing with the holiday email overload is one of the most stressful aspects of having a vacation. More stressful even than loosing your passport. Hence why they did not dare have an email detox. As stress and mental health rises up the corporate agenda, the reasons for disconnecting are ever more pressing to preserve our well-being.

Organisations have adopted many ways to lessen the holiday email overload effect from an ‘Out of Office’ messages asking you to re-send the email when the other person is back to adopting an email free vacation charter. But what if your company has no such policy? Here are the top ten actions you can take by yourself to have an email free vacation and reduce the holiday email overload mountain.

Pack the inbox properly

  1. De-clutter your inbox before going on leave. Clear out all the old emails and flag those needing your attention on return. Be ruthless, delete the low priority ones.
  2. Use rules to divert all new low priority emails eg newsletters and in reverse highlight potentially important ones.
  3. Set a safe and simple Out of Office message. Run it for a day before and after your vacation to allow time to chill out and then gear up smoothly.
  4. Switch off work email feed on your mobile device if you use only one mobile device. Otherwise leave the work one at home.

The email free vacation

  1. Establish a disaster recovery plan. In case of a real emergency leave a contact point.
  2. If you feel you must check your emails, allocate specific times eg end/beginning of the day.

Unpack the inbox on your return

  1. Spend the first half hour talking to colleagues to see what has been happened and hence which emails need you immediate attention.Email Overload Time Management
  2. Attack the inbox. Block out one/two hours for the first few days to clear the important emails. Use time management techniques like Pomodoro or apps like Saent to stay focused.
  3. Utilise the email software functions to help save time, for instance creating templates of text for responding (Quick Parts in Outlook) and Quick Steps to move and flag emails for action later (remembering managing the sender’s expectation).
  4. Stop after three/four days. Move the rest out to a folder and leave them.   By then if you still have not cleared all the really important emails it’s time to reflect on what are your real priorities.  This is akin to declaring email bankruptcy which is used very successfully by many (to defuse the holiday email backlog) on the basis that if it is that important someone will soon re-email you.

Do you have any tips to share about dealing with the email free vacation challenge? There is a free copy of either Brilliant Email or Taking Control of Your Inbox for the best response. Email us your suggestions by 10 August.

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