Blogs

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.

Email etiquette to protect your professional image over the silly season

Wednesday December 13th, 2017, 2:34 pm

It’s that time of year when it’s easy to become complacent and let our email etiquette slip.  Coming back from a festive lunch (drink or even dinner) you decide to clear the email backlog and are in a frivolous mood.  Then there are all those Santa hats and jumpers you wear.

To some extent they are OK because they are here today and gone tomorrow and few remembers what you were wearing a week ago. However, like a puppy and kitten, an email is for life despite your best endeavours to recall it!

Here are five top tips on business email etiquette to preserve your professional image when all about you are losing their heads.

  1. Never email under the influence of drink (before, during or after Christmas) when your judgement and vision could be impaired.
  2. Delay sending any emails by two minutes.  Either manually save them as drafts or write a rule to delay sending by two minutes.
  3. Add a sentence of best wishes, by all means but that’s it.  Keep to your usual professional greeting and sign off.   Leave all the cosy ones for social emails (eg Hiya, kisses and emoticons).
  4. Keep you Out of Office message safe and simple. Give away as little information to prying eyes as possible. Be bold, tell senders that all your emails are being deleted over the festive break and to resend anything important on your return.
  5. Be extra vigilant about any unfamiliar emails from both unknown senders and existing contacts where the email has an unusual subject-line/content. They may have been hacked and the hackers are now extending their tentacles. Such unusual emails nearly always are either taking you to bogus websites to capture your personal details or the start of a cyber attack.

You might also want to avoid letting colleagues (and friends) post images of you on their social media sites with those fun hats etc.  Although you can delete your posts, you do not not have control over other people’s sites.  2018 might be when you look for a new job and recruiters often look in depth at candidates internet foot prints before making a judgement.

 

 

 

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Declutter to reach Inbox Zero over the festive season

Wednesday December 13th, 2017, 2:29 pm

Inbox Zero

Inbox zero was a phrase coined by Merlin Mann to epitomise email efficiency.  Now it is regarded by many include Mann as perhaps a way to waste time yet still feel like you are working hard. However at this time of year we can all profit from spending a little time de-cluttering and getting ready for the new year.   In this context reaching ‘inbox zero’ makes an excellent goal.  Here are five quick ways to clean and de-clutter your inbox to reach inbox zero over the festive season

  1. Move all emails over two weeks old to a folder outside your inbox. Basically anything that old is well past its sell-by date. If it isn’t you can be sure that the sender will re-contact you.
  2. Start the folder name with full stop and it will sit at the top of the folder list. Alternatively for Outlook users, you can add it to your Favorites.
  3. Review what is left and decide what else to move out and what still needs action. Use the Conversation view/Sort by Subject/Sender etc to sort.
  4. Set aside time each day to action any emails which really, really warrant your attention. Highlight those for attention after the break (move to a ‘Pending’ folder, create a task etc).  With many people in festive mood, some emails might gain more attention if left until January 2nd!
  5. Move all the remaining emails out to the folder created in Step 1.

By now you should have a relatively clean inbox. If not – simply declare Email Bankruptcy.

Still too many emails in your inbox and no place to put them?  Why not ask Mesmo Consultancy to run a Smart Email Management Masterclass in the new year?

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Business Email Etiquette for urgent emails

Thursday November 16th, 2017, 9:51 pm

When colleagues receive 70+ emails per day, what is the most effective business email etiquette to draw their attention to a critical and urgent email?  There are several ways such as priority markers and read receipts.  Neither are that effective because they can appear rude and annoying, and be overlooked especially as some senders use them for everything.

A follow-up phone call?  A very good idea but what if the person is out of phone contact.

How about sending the email so that the subject-line shows in red in the recipient’s inbox?  This is the business email etiquette one client uses and finds it very effective. Here is how it work.

To send an email that will appear red in the recipient’s inbox.

1. Open a new email

2. From the Tags menu block click on Follow Up and select Custom... from the drop down menu.

3. In the Custom dialogue box, click on the Flag For Recipients. Click on Reminder and set the date and time you want the recipient to be reminder. After that date the email turns red.

 

Note – If you include a ‘Flag for Me’ (top half of the dialogue box), the reminder will also show up on your Task List.

4. To make the email Red on receipt, set the reminder date to a date and time in the past (ie before you send it).

As with all such attention seeking email etiquette practices, it is vital that you agree whatever process you employ with the other person prior to using it, otherwise you risk coming across as arrogant and too clever by half!

What’s your preferred business email etiquette to highlight important emails?

 

To learn more ways like this about how to send emails which attract the recipient’s attention without appearing rude attend on one of our Smart Email Management Masterclasses.  These are run in-company as either conventional classroom sessions or webinars.  For more information call or email us now.

 

 

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Business Email Overload and Etiquette articles of note – November 2017

Thursday November 16th, 2017, 9:51 pm

For the last five years, Inbox Zero was the holly grail for many who wanted to save time dealing with email. But did it really help and reduce email overload?  Is your business email etiquette and social media footprint helping or hampering your chances of a new job? How quickly can you spot fake news? These are some of the topics we highlight for this month.

1. What is the best way to manage your inbox and email overload? Over the years many different approaches to email management have been touted as the salvation for everyone suffering from business email overload. These include Inbox zero which many pursued as the holy of grail of business email management. Now Merlin Mann its inventor doubts its effectiveness and suggest that it might indeed be a complete waste of time. So what are we left with, the sledge hammer or goldfish approaches? In this Guardian guest blog, Monica reviews the options.

2.Eight email (etiquette) mistakes which bug your colleagues. Adding kisses and emoticons, not including a greeting and informal content are just some of the things you might be doing with email which annoys your colleagues. This is what a recent study by CV-Library revealed. Sending emails well out-side normal office hours is also very annoying. None of this is new but these are also business email etiquette habits which might be costing you your next job (including when emailing recruitment companies).

Check your business email etiquette using the Mesmo Consultancy on-line analytical tool. It is so easy to fall into sloppy habits as we work under increasing time pressures. Make sure this is not happening to you and that your business email etiquette is not jeopardising your next job.  For more tips see the Mesmo Business Email Etiquette video the Five S Formula for Writing Effective Emails.

3. Deep clean your internet activity. Yes, the first port of call for recruiters is often the internet. What will they find out about you? Old social media posts which you forgot to remove. One of us was recruiting for a CEO. After finding information about a potential candidate they phoned a business associate who might know more. Yes, you guessed, the candidate did not make it past the first round.  You cannot remove all the content for example reputable news content. However, you can clean up your social media posts as this article explains.

4. Corporate leaders: keep your Yammering in check. It is not just the Millenials and Snowflakes that need to be mindful of what they post on the web. CEOs too can sometimes wreak havoc with their posts as Jean- Sébastien Jacques CEO of Rio Tinto found. It is easy to get carried away by the ease of posting and one’s own self-importance. In the process as Mr Jacques and others have found they can reveal too much personal information and sensitive data which causes mayhem. On the other hand there is a line of thought which says there is no such thing as bad publicity. It’s a very fine dividing line as these articles have demonstrated and which need treading with great care and attention.

5. Spotting fake news. Pre the web, we used to say there are lies and dam lies. We were taught to study the statistics used and look for inconsistencies etc. Whilst this is still a vital skill, the challenge is how to spot news on social media which is fake. Here is an excellent concise guide on how to do it.

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Sleep Well to Reduce Business Email Overload

Friday October 20th, 2017, 9:09 am

What would you rather have – a good night’s sleep or win the lottery? Choose the former to improve your well-being and happiness (and reduce business email overload).  Sleep is now recognised as one, if not the main, contributor to our well-being. This is according to the latest survey from National Centre for Social Research. When you are rested, your self-esteem is higher, you are more relaxed and perform more effectively. This is also what sports psychologists have found when preparing sportsmen and women for big events.

What has this to do with reducing business email overload? Ironically, the blue light from those beloved mobile devices has been found to be the most significant cause of a poor night’s sleep. The two key reasons being:

  • The blue light supresses melatonin which is the hormone key to a good night’s sleep.
  • Your brain does not have a proper rest. Answering emails and checking social media makes the brain feel its needs to keep working.

Despite the growing body of research showing how checking emails etc late at night is detrimental to our well-being, the perennial comment in workshops is: ‘my colleagues/boss work in a different time zone and I need to be available’.

Stress and mental health are key areas of concern for most organisations. Business email overload and the constant distraction from digital alerts remain amongst the top ten stressors. This is due to many factors including:

  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Email/digital addiction
  • Poor organisational email culture.

During the recent Overload 2017 webinar speakers such as Lawrence Ampofo and Dan Calisata highlighted ways to create a healthier digital communications culture. For example, using mindfulness and setting boundaries outside which people are not expected to be available. You cannot change culture in isolation but you can start to influence other people’s behaviour and question theirs when they expect you to violate normality. Once you start to make improvements then is the time to collect data to use to develop a business case for changing the wider email culture (perhaps just across your division).

Doing nothing to reduce business email overload is simply not an option these days. Not only will it ultimately damage your personal health it will deter others from working in the organisation and especially ‘Millenials’ and ‘Snowflakes’. Both expect more life-work balanced organisations. They do not see a job for life and if the organisational culture does not suit they will move elsewhere.

Here are seven ways to improve the quality of your sleep – yet stay on top of your inbox and reduce business email overload.

  1. Set boundaries outside which you do not deal with work emails.
  2. Use your Out of Office Message if needs be to manage sender expectations.
  3. Switch off at least one hour before going to bed.
  4. Leave all digital devices outside the bedroom.
  5. Keep pen and paper by the bed if you need to make notes (for example your mind is churning with things to do tomorrow).
  6. Use a conventional alarm clock rather than the one on your digital device.
  7. Read a conventional paper-based book rather than e-book.

It can be hard to switch off, one way is to start by creating digital-free time during the day.  For example, at meal times and whilst shopping. Then build-up so that ultimately you have a digital-free day over the weekends.

Other resources to help you include:

If you (or your team) need more help reducing business email overload whilst improving well-being and productivity, email or phone us  now.

What are your top tips for improving the quality of your sleep?

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