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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.

Averting a Reply All disaster

Wednesday November 16th, 2016, 5:56 pm

A few days ago the NHS email server ground to a halt as one person hit Reply All to a test email. Who was at fault the sender or the recipient?   There are many who feel the Reply All button should actually be removed from all email programmes. Is this a sledge hammer to crack a nut? Or is it more about applying modern business email etiquette and maybe alternative technologies.

For many hitting Reply All is done purely for egotistical reasons, eg to cover their backside, demonstrate their cleverness in finding a fault with what the sender is saying. For others it is stupidity, because they know no better, no one has every explained properly the difference between Reply and Reply All and under which circumstances such business email etiquette is or is not acceptable.

The organisation too maybe at fault for not having clearly understood principles of email best practice. Yes, they are probably in the big tome called Company Policy, but how many of us read it after our Induction Course. Indeed Induction Courses are often simply a breeding ground for chronic attacks of information overload designed to make you forget all common sense.emailoverload

Reply All can also be either pure laziness or a result of responding too fast without thinking through who really needs to see your response.

Clearly, there are times when Reply All is needed, the obvious one being during an email conversation, although again one might ask if email is really the right medium.

Here are seven easy ways to avoid such Reply All disasters like the recent NHS case.

As senders

  1. Use the Bcc address line. Excellent email etiquette best practice. This way everyone receives their own email but even if they feel the urge to hit Reply All, only one response to the sender is sent.
  2. Be selective about who you include. Needs a few minutes thinking time and you may well miss someone but you can always re-send the email.
  3. Choose an alternative media. Change your email behaviour/culture especially for discussions. Use a more efficient medium, for example talking, OneNote, social media based technologies like Slack and Facebook for Business.
  4. Challenge and educate the Reply All offender. Ask the recipient why they hit Reply All.

For recipients

  1. Take time to decide how to reply. Why are we always in such a rush to reply? Have a look at who is in the Cc box and make a considered judgement and exactly who needs a response.
  2. Suggest an alternative way/medium especially if it’s a discussion – see 3 above.

For both sender and recipient

  1. Use the email software to filter out all the Cc’d email.  In Outlook set rules and use Conversation mode to help you.

Reply All disasters can be avoided by adopting sound email etiquette and making sure everyone understands them. Using the email software too and looking outside the inbox to alternative technologies/medium can help manage the potential for such disasters.

Are you are subject to the unnecessary Reply All culture? Call us and ask about our Smart Email management masterclass specially designed to improve performance and reduce the scope for such expensive disasters.

 

 

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Information Overload Day – Monday 17 October

Sunday October 16th, 2016, 8:31 pm

Today is Information Overload Day when around the world people are trying to combat this silent disease which is zapping our energy. Email is one of the major contributors to information overload. (Although social media now too plays a significant part.)

It’s easy to improve one’s own personal email management but to start really reducing email and hence information overload means engaging your colleagues and then the whole enterprise.

One way is to have an email good behaviour charter to which everyone adheres as closely as possible. Ours is called the Nine Ps of Email Best Practice. Anyone who has attended either a Brilliant Email or Take Control of Your Inbox session will be familiar with it.mail-96870_640

Here are the five Ps which can help you make the most difference on Information Overload Day by reducing the rounds of email ping pong and unnecessary emails.

  1. Put aside quality time to deal with email. Don’t let all those new emails derail your plan for the day.
  2. Prioritise what emails you need and where they land in your inbox.
  3. Provide time for the recipient. Don’t chase five minutes after sending. Allow at least 2 hours for a reply. If it’s that urgent – see 3.
  4. Pick the right medium. Email might be the easiest option but it is often the most inappropriate and inefficient.
  5. Pen your email in plain language. This significantly reduces the rounds of email ping pong.

Adopt these five Ps of good email behaviour across your working groups not just on Information Overload Day but everyday. This will significantly help reduce information (and email) overload which has become a burden on not just business but often our social lives too.

For more resources for Information Overload Day click here.

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Book of Note – October 2016

Tuesday October 11th, 2016, 8:38 pm

We all know that email overload is the biggest drain on our ability to perform well in both social and work situations.  ‘Unsubscribe’ is an easy to ready and witty new book from Jocelyn K. Glie.  cover-basic

Whilst it doesn’t tell us anything we did not already know, it presents the information in an easy to read format.  Also it has some very good cartoons and graphics to exemplify the points and especially in relation to how easily we can waste our day just dealing with our inbox.  Glie provides advice on how to:

  • Have an email detox and reduce your email addiction.
  • Focus and not be distracted.
  • Prioritise which emails to deal with and when.
  • Gain the recipient’s attention.
  • Generate template emails to save yourself time.

For anyone serious about conquering email overload and re-claim their lives from the dreaded inbox this makes a useful addition to the existing books on time and email management.

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Articles of Note – October 2016

Monday October 10th, 2016, 8:11 pm

It’s been an astonishing few weeks for email news. First, there was the Yahoo breach of security. Then the death of the Blackberry and now a survey from Adobe which revealed yet again just how email addiction is increasing and email response times decreasing.Typewritter

1. Addicted to email. A recent survey from Adobe reveals that 45% of users check their email even in the bathroom. A frightening 17% still read them whilst driving and 57% check them in bed.  Click here to check your own level of email addiction.

The survey also found that half the respondents expect a reply within one hour. This is twice as fast as five years ago, found in previous research from Mesmo Consultancy. Moreover our research revealed that it is usually internals’ who have such an expectation. External senders being prepared to wait longer. Little wonder many feel unable to switch off despite the known downsides of the always on culture.

Although this new study is based on USA respondents, it makes interesting reading and especially for any Director concerned with improving productivity and well-being of their employees.

2.  Yahoo hacked. In late September Yahoo finally admitted that over half a billion user’s personal data had been compromised when Yahoo was targeted by hackers over two years ago. Two vital actions for all Yahoo users: first change your password. Second, consider switching to an alternative such as Gmail or Outlook.

3.  Passwords are still the weakest link. Michael Chertoff, former head of US Homeland Security revealed that few people set strong passwords. Many default to simplistic ones which can easily be hacked. Click here for more on password management and how to set a secure password.

4. Are those personal apps a potential security threat to your company?  Tech companies such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Dropbox have suffered major data breaches, with security research company Ponemon putting the average cost per breach at $4m (£3.2m), or $158 per stolen record. Whilst most organisations let you use these and other apps on your mobile device, Ponemon suggest others too such as Slack, Evernote and WhatsApp, may well be a potential security threat. Once your personal device has been hacked company data on them too can easily be leaked. Although most organisations have tight security policies and practices, getting people to apply them to their personal devices can be very hard as seen above.

5.  Death of the Blackberry. That device which was heralded as the mother of improved productivity met its death in late September. Beloved by nearly as many as hated it. Responsible for more divorces than any other piece of modern technology and a nose dive in productivity and well-being should we mourn its passing or rejoice?

Although this new study is based on USA respondents, it makes interesting reading and especially for any Director concerned with improving productivity and well-being of their employees.

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One email – two folders

Thursday October 6th, 2016, 6:18 pm

How often do you look at an email and think hmm, this belongs in both folder A and B.  Then you think, but will I remember which one it is in?  Results, it just sits in the inbox.  There is an easy solution.  Make a copy and place it in both folders.  Here is how for Outlook users.

1.  Highlight the email in the usual way.
2.  Hold down the right mouse button and drag it to the first folder of choice.
3.  Release the right mouse button and from the drop down menu which appears choose ‘Copy’.

The original email remains in the inbox/original folder but now you have a copy in the other folder too.photo_fotor

 

One word of warning – if the email has a large attachment and you have a mailbox limit, make sure you remove it and save it outside your inbox. Otherwise you will very soon use up your valuable storage space.

For Gmail users, give the email two ‘Labels’ and move it to one of the corresponding folders. It will then be visible in both folders corresponding to those labels.

For more tips like this either see ‘Brilliant Email‘ or ask about Mesmo Consultancy’s Brilliant Email Masterclasses

 

 

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