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.

Email Overload – folders to continue the email diet

Wednesday December 29th, 2010, 11:08 am

There are two diverse schools of thought on the value of folders as a way to manage email overload.
Today is the case for a good folder structure, tomorrow the case against using folders.

Those in favour say that a good folder structure is an excellent way to keep your emails under control and manage the email overload, just like having an old fashioned paper filing system.  The benefits of a good folder structure include, quicker to find emails, you can use rules to divert the less important emails automatically to folders, easier to manage in terms of clearing out and hence improve compliance.

On my quest to reduce the size of my mailbox, I am going through those folders relating to old projects and deleting all the ephemeral ones, eg confirming meetings, sending attachments which are now filed in the main project file etc.  Also importantly, all emails which by law should have been deleted as they contain personal information is no longer needed, eg CVs for recruitment exercises.

If you subscribe to the SMART goal principle then sorting out several smaller folders rather than one large one gives you a sense of achievement in the quest to manage the email overload. Using folders means slimming down the inbox can be broken up into smaller chunks. A good (email) folder structure is also at the heart of the David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy as it helps you prioritise.

My new book ‘Brilliant Email‘ contains several examples of how others (from MDs to PAs) have used folder structures to help them be more productive.

What’s your view on the use of folders?

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Email overload – did you take a sneak peak on Christmas Day?

Monday December 27th, 2010, 5:47 pm

Have just created a poll to see how many people looked at their email on Christmas Day.  Do participate, http://linkd.in/eYGFDF.

Yes, I did check it just the once in the afternoon, but did not send any.  Given that the more emails we send, the more we receive, there might be some telling lessons from the results about dealing with email overload.

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Email Etiquette: Out of Office Messages best practice

Friday December 24th, 2010, 1:27 pm

Have you set an Out Of Office message which meets the 3S standard: simple, short and secure.

Simple and short – just one point of contact and please, please make sure that person is around.  More than one point of contact and you might find yourself divulging confidential information and increasing the risk of a breach of business security.  Secure too, because it doesn’t immediately alert any cyber criminals to a potentially empty home.

Email etiquette for the best Out Of Office messages – ‘I will not be in the office between X and Y.   If your email is urgent, please contact A, otherwise I will deal with it on my return.’  That’s the polite message.

I do know some people whose message reads ‘I will not be in the office between X and Y.   If your email is urgent, please re-send it on A, as all incoming emails during this period are automatically being deleted’.

Actually, I think that’s a great way to manage the email overload.  What do you think?

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Email overload – reduce the weight of your inbox ready for the new year

Thursday December 23rd, 2010, 2:42 pm

Have been ruthless with my own email management techniques by emptying my inbox over the last few days.  All newsletters over a week old (opened and unopened) have been deleted.  Any of specific interest have been moved to folders.  Spent time too reducing the email overload in my sent items.  Those which have to be retained have been filed either in the client or project folder (eg those with contractual implications).  Even the e-christmas cards are now in a folder.  For more ideas on putting your inbox on a diet see my latest Silicon.Com column ‘Five Ways to Start an Email Weight Loss Campaign over Christmas‘.

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Email Overload and the rise and fall of social networking

Tuesday December 21st, 2010, 10:00 pm

Two more reports now suggest that social media as an alternative to email is not growing as fast as it should: Radicati Group’s latest industry survey and informal research from Brian Solis.  This despite the fact that Facebook and Twitter usage continues to grow.  Meanwhile for business, as IBM found, email is still the preferred media.  Even although the IBM study found that 48% of respondents felt they suffered from email overload.

Why is this?  One explanation might be the Generation X and Y.  By and large business is still tilted towards more Generation X employees many of whom are not comfortable with social media and have not been educated how to use it properly.  A second explanation might be that all alerts about new information on social media/social networks still comes by email.  This in turn drives up the email traffic.  One way to manage this aspect of email overload is to create rules to divert all such alerts away from the inbox and to a folder.

However that still leaves the need to educate Generation X.

What do you think?

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