Blogs - Archive

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.

Thinking Outside the Inbox

Thursday March 5th, 2015, 11:00 am

Think Outside bx

Think outside the inbox

Last week a client complained at being emailed by another colleague who sat just five desk away.  How often does this happen to you? We have a love hate relationship with email: its fast and easy but not always the best communications channel.  An over dependence on email at the expense of other channels is one of the primary causes of email overload.  Yet how many of us make the effort to think outside the inbox before hitting send.

Very few judging by many of my client’s experiences.  However, some leading organisations are being innovative and for example banning all internal emails and having no email days in an effort to both reduce email overload and improve communications.  These range from high-tech companies to housing associations and architects.

My behaviour will influence your behaviour here are three ways to encourage others to think outside the inbox.

1.     Provide an incentive for them to talk to you.

2.     Use an alternative tool to provide information which people really need, for example the form for requesting leave, a sales update.

3.     Implement email free times and office zones.

To reduce the email dependency (and even email addiction) above all else make sure you create the role model: next time you are about to hit send, get up and walk and talk to the person. Try responding to external email with a phone call.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the extra information you pick up to help progress that important sale.

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A note book is mightier than email; ways to cure email addiction

Friday February 13th, 2015, 10:09 pm

Email addiction is one of the underlying causes of email and information overload. A constant theme in workshops over the past few weeks, has been thinking outside the inbox and using alternatives to email, be it for either communications or keeping track of the to-do-list. Many and especially Generation Z onwards are now hardwired to their mobile devices. Indeed some may have even lost the ability to write with anything other than a keyboard.

Yet, traditional writing implements are having a huge resurgence. There are websites dedicated to note books and sales of fountain pens are booming. Some would argue that pen and paper are for dinosaurs, but would you call Sheryl Sandberg one? She admits to using a traditional notebook and pen to keep track of her to-to-list and make quick notes.

BomoArt memo book - always to hand

BomoArt memo book – always to hand

Pen and paper has many advantages over technology some of which have been expounded in previous blogs. From a personal perspective the top five benefits are:

  • Limits the distractions as there is no temptation to check my emails and social media feeds.
  • The physical act of writing improves my ability to recall and process the information.
  • It’s a differentiator and helps you stand out from the crowd.
  • There are no worries about battery life.
  • Helps me think through my message as there is no delete key.

When is the notebook mightier than email and how can it help reduce email addiction and overload. Here are five ways I use my trusty notebook and fountain pen rather than email.

  • In a meeting and especially when it might be socially unacceptable to have a mobile device eg with a CEO, private dinner etc.
  • Take ownership when someone asks me to do something (client, friend, colleague etc) rather than the more usual ‘email me’. That is just a waste of time and increases the email traffic.
  • Brainstorm ideas instead of endless email chains.
  • Acknowledge when someone has gone the extra mile by sending a handwritten thank you note.
  • Keep track of my daily task-list instead of flags and tasks etc. This helps me be far more realistic about what can be achieved in a day.

Yes, I do use OneNote but mostly to save web-related materials, links to web sites and digital pictures. Call me a dinosaur if you like, but in my view, pen and paper is often mightier than email and digital devices.

Good fortune too is on my side as BomoArt, one of the leading producers of fine stationary is my sponsor. One of their Memo books is always to hand and a leather bound journal serves as my day book.

Do you ever use pen and paper in preference to email? If so do tell us how and for what purpose.

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Articles and Blogs of Note – February 2015

Friday February 13th, 2015, 10:07 pm

January into February are often lean months for good news stories outside of real major world events.  From a technology standpoint, three threads really stood out, security, email etiquette and the effect of mobile devices on our wellbeing.  In the light of the Sony hacking offensive the emphasis on cyber crine and email etiquette is not surprising. Here are our top five articles and blogs of note.

Press room

Articles of note

  1. Sony hacking saga – the true reputational damage as Amy Pascal steps down.   A summary of events and the cost to personal professional lives when a hacker finds email which should never have been sent in the first place.
  2. Being a good diplomat takes more than Ferrero Rocher.  Appalled at the lack of language and social skills, the Foreign Office set up a new Academy to enable its Diplomats to regain their standing overseas.  They will be taught not only languages such as Mandarin but also how to use social media.  Will the courses extend to email etiquette and when its more effective to use pen and paper rather than email?  There is also a very good article in The Times with some tips and hints which might give anyone a competitive advantage during sales negotiation (but you need a subscription to read it).
  3. FTSE 350 cyber governance health check tracker report.  Although aimed at larger organisations, it makes excellent reading for every business owner and IT Director.
  4. Symantec cyber crime survival guide.  A short video on how to reduce the risk of a cyber attack and manage the after effects.  You can download a handy aid memoir.  Interestingly user education is a key point.
  5. Switching on outside office risks relationships. A new study from Surrey University has found that the long hours culture predicated by mobile devices and email overload is increasing levels of stress.

If email security, email etiquette or the impact of email overload on well being are on your agenda for 2015, why not contact Mesmo Consultancy now for a free consultation? Either call us on +44 (0)1202 434340 or email us.

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Books on the bedside table

Friday February 13th, 2015, 7:09 pm

Books of Note

Books of Note

The last few months have been spent catching up with the backlog from November and December especially the Innovators by Walter Isaacson.   In addition to a digital history lesson, it contains many lessons in how to manage technology innovation and the people associated with it.  This month is a mix of new and old books which warrant mention.

New Books

  1.  The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin.  This is perhaps my book of the year.  Have you found yourself unable to make a decision because of the choice of options, for example buying breakfast cereal, a fibre tip pen etc? Choice is good as it provides a competitive environment, but it is also creating massive information overload. Levitin’s main proposition is that mobile devices are shrinking our brain power because they offer so many distractions.   As a result we find ourselves unable to focus and through acute information overload.  Levitin offers an insight to how our brains function and why email addiction is so prevalent.  Through case histories he offers some practical advise to improve help us regain our power to think strategically and improve our performance.
  2. It’s Complicated – the social lives of networked teens by Danah Boyd.  Do you want to understand the digital world  through the eyes of the millenials and for that matter your own children? What attracts them on-line and what turns them off?  This book provides some answers and a useful insight in to the on-line behaviour of the youth of today.

Old Books

For a client assignment, I recently re-read two classics on change management.  Both are short and written over ten years ago.  However, the underlying themes and guidance on why and how to change still resonate.  Indeed they feel even more current in today’s world where the pace of change is now so fast that if you take a month off you might find you need to re-skill or worse still extinct.

  1. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.  Written as a parable – it’s very amusing and thought provoking about the need to let go and move on, otherwise you might find ‘you become extinct’.
  2. Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber.  Similarly written as a fable this time about penguins.  It has a useful eight step change management plan and an underlying theme of reverse mentoring.

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Sony hack – the real reputation damage as Amy Pascal Steps down

Thursday February 5th, 2015, 9:54 pm

Reputational damage always follows a major cyber crime hack.  It was only a matter of time before we saw the real fall out from the recent Sony hacking

Email disasters

Email disasters

offensive, in terms of the damage to personal reputations (and possibly still the business’s reputation).  Today is the start, with Amy Pascal feeling she should resign. It has always been my view that Barclays Bank Libor emails cost the bank and its management team more in reputational damage than the actual fine.  They slipped out of the top 100 most trusted companies.  Had the press not found those damaging emails, they would not have been the focus of such media attention.  After all many other banks were in a similar position.

An unprecedented hack as happened to Sony will be forgiven, but not the vitriolic emails which show the company management culture is such disarray.

The moral is of course to think, think and think again before hitting send.  Ask yourself. ‘what if a hacker found this email’. If you really cannot manage your impulsive behaviour then the solution is slow email and set a rule to delay sending all your email by a few minutes to allow for cooling off.

How well are you managing to reduce the risk to you and your business becoming the stars of the next email-gate media disaster?  Contact us now to hear how we have helped other organisations protect their professional image by more effective email management.

 

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