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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.

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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Articles of Note – June 2017

Sunday June 25th, 2017, 3:44 pm

A mixed bag this month, including email etiquette to improve sustainability and why reaching inbox zero might not be the right goal.

1  Business email etiquette for sustainability – top tips on how to reduce the energy and resources needed to manage your inbox.

The problem with email overload – the author suggests that reaching inbox zero is  not sustainable. Unlike climbing Everest, once there you have achieved something. No sooner have you reached inbox zero, the inbox rapidly fills up again and you are in effect back to ground zero. And especially for those who receive in excess of 100 emails a day. We would argue it is about reducing the number your receive, changing your email behaviour and using the software etc to help you manage the inbox.

2. Think about saying no more often as advocated by Lucy Kellaway.  Although more in relation to time management it also applies to helping reduce email overload.

3. MPs email accounts hacked – perhaps with all the chaos surrounding the recent election it was not surprising that hackers took advantage of it and hacked several MPs accounts! Interestingly those most vulnerable were those with weak passwords.  Click here for how to create strong passwords.

4. We now spend 13 hours a week on email. Yes, its true according to a recent survey from McKinsey. Is this realistic and the best use of our time? The article suggests not surprisingly ridding yourself of all unwanted emails and learning to use the technology better.

How good are you with Outlook? Benchmark yourself now with our on-line tool.

5. All is revealed by Johnny Depp’s business manager. In the midst of an acrimonious lawsuit Johnny Depp’s business manager has revealed very personal emails to show that Depp did indeed know about his dire financial situation. Again this like Beckham email faux pass which demonstrates that you only have control over one aspect of email – choosing to hit Send. After that you have no control over where the email goes.

 

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Business email etiquette to improve sustainability

Friday June 2nd, 2017, 11:08 am

A very easy way reduce your own and your organisation’s carbon footprint is by using proper business email etiquette.  This reduces the size of the actual email.  The smaller the email and the fewer emails, the less resources needed to run your inbox.  Hence the lower your carbon footprint.  Here are five ways of using brilliant business email etiquette to make a positive contribution to the climate change debate.

  1. Shorten the content of your emails by 10 to 25%.
  2. Edit emails you forward and delete all unnecessary previous entries.
  3. Say it in the subject-line where it is short.
  4. Plan ahead and make sure you have asked the right questions and given the right information for the recipient to reply fully.
  5. Avoid email discussion, instead talk or use a collaborative tool like OneNote, Yammer etc.

For more tips like this see either ‘Brilliant Email’ or ‘Taking Control of Your Inbox’ and like our new   Facebook Page.

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Mental Health Awareness Week – Reduce Business Email Overload Day 5

Thursday May 11th, 2017, 9:33 pm

Day 5 – Pulling It All Together

Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times. Niccolo Machiavelli

Email overload is stressful and can also be an underlying cause of mental health issues.  Hopefully  you have reduced the email overload, have a clean inbox and improved your productivity and well-being.

Now the trick is to keep your inbox under control and encourage others to follow suit.

Email addiction is one of the major causes of email overload. It’s the feeling that you must constantly check your inbox no matter where you are, what you are doing or what the time of day.  Moreover, we often default to email when of course there are a myriad of other ways to communicate. As many of you will know I am a great fan of pen and paper especially for saying thank you and taking ownership when being asked to do something rather than retorting with ‘send me an email’.

Day five is about taking stock, checking you are not suffering from email addiction and making plans to keep your inbox out of the email overload zone.  Here is our three step plan for the last day.

Step 1  – Check your level of email addiction

Use Mesmo Consultancy’s free Email Addiction self-assessment tool.  Identify your strengths and weaknesses and if necessary seek advice about how to control the urge to have another email fix.

In the coming days and weeks as you are about either to Reply/Forward or even ‘Send’ pause and ask yourself would an alternative be more efficient (eg talking, a discussion group on something like SharePoint, instant message etc)?

Step 2 – Review your action plan and goals

Look back to Day 1 and how much time you were losing. Now re-calibrate using our Cost of Email Misuse Calculator.  Where do you still need to make some changes?

Step 3 – Moving forward

How will you keep your inbox slim and control the business email overload in the coming weeks?  Don’t let email rule your day.  Don’t feel you must check your email either first thing in the morning or every five minutes.  Rather try disconnect from time to time. The most productive people are those who prioritise their time and stay focused on the task in hand.

Do you have colleagues who would benefit from managing their email more effectively as you have now done?  Yes, then call  us now to ask about our Brilliant Email Management master classes. Otherwise how about giving them a copy of either ‘Brilliant Email’ or ‘Taking Control of Your Inbox’?

Celebrate – Dare to share

Share your progress; EmailFacebookTwitter  (using #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek)  There are two prize  for the two people who have made the most outstanding progress (a copy of ‘Brilliant Email‘ and ‘Taking Control of Your Inbox”).  For instance, had five days of empty inboxes, reduced the number of rounds of email ping-pong by improving their email etiquette etc.

For  more resource

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Thank you for joining us for this the re-run of Clean Out Your Inbox Week to support Mental Health Awareness week  We hope we have made a small contribution to helping people re-focus their work-life balance and de-stress..  Feedback on how we can improve this event for next year is always appreciated.

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