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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.

Articles of Note April 2016 – life after email

Friday April 1st, 2016, 8:21 pm

The death of the inventor of email prompted several authors and producers to reflect on not only the future of email but also lettersTypewritter.

  1.  Ray Tomlinson – founder of email dies. Yes, email was invented over 30 years ago by a quiet modest man who wanted to write a simple messaging programme and choose the @ to denote where the sender was ‘at’ as in located. Perhaps not surprisingly he never became addicted to email!  But little did he realise it would be the cause of today’s most prevalent office disease – email overload.

2.  The future of email – the BBC put together a short piece for NewsNight about whether or not email will survive another 30 years. Probably, yes but hopefully we will be making better use of alternatives for both sharing and sending short ephemeral communications.

3.  What might the world with less email look like?  Alexandra Samuel provides a very good and practical insight and reviews the good and bad side of using alternatives to email and especially from the perspective of archiving material.

4.  Lost in digitisation? As if reading Alexandra’s thoughts, Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times questions what treasures will remain if we no longer either write with pen and paper or worse still use social media sights where the message/photo disappears once seen (like Snapchat). Will we still have any great letters and photos to help us form a picture of like in the 21st Century as our forefather left us a century earlier?

And

5.  Stopping a potential email war. How does the response of ‘points noted’ strike you? Passive aggression or a very smart way to stop a potential email war?

6.  Email with no regrets.  Sadly an email sent is rarely if ever deleted.  There is always someone somewhere who will have kept a copy and produce it just when you least expected. Here are some tips on how to minimise if not obliterate the need to feel remorse after sending an email.

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How to email with no regrets

Thursday March 17th, 2016, 9:38 pm

Sadly an email sent is rarely if ever deleted.  There is always someone somewhere who will have kept a copy and produce it just when you least expected.

Yes, in Outlook you can recall an email.  However as soon as one sees that recall message I defy anyone not to be tempted to open the offending email!

Here are a few recent email scandals where the sender is probably bitterly regretting they ever sent the original email.

  • VW – it turns out the head of US operations was sent an email about the emissions problems over 18 months ago.  No wonder he is on his way out.

    Email regrets

    Email regrets

  • Hilary Clinton continues to be dogged by the saga of the emails she sent through her own email account. It is not just about whether or not they contained classified information but the content as a whole.
  • Nick Moon director of  GfK NOP was exceedingly rude about one of the key Brexit campaigners Dominic Cummings.  Moon intended to email only a fellow director and called Moon ‘odious’.  But he hit Reply All and Moon being in the original Cc box  saw the email!

There is nothing new about emails you wish you had never sent.  It is that somehow we never seem to learn good email etiquette and that email sent, is an email kept for life.  Within everyday business you can take three easy steps to reduce the risk of creating an email scandal.

1.     Resist hitting Reply All – check who is in the To and CC address box and make sure you are sending it to the right people.

2.     Think and re-read your email before hitting send.  Ask yourself what if this turned up on the wrong person’s desk?

3.     Practice the art of ‘slow email’.  Write a rule to put every email into a holding pattern before it leaves your inbox.

For more suggestions see Mesmo Consultancy video on how the manage the risks of cyber crime and leaking confidential information.

How do you have a preferred way to manage  these risks to ensure you have no regrets about the emails you send?

 

 

 

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Distracted Beyond Belief

Wednesday March 2nd, 2016, 9:31 pm

One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.
Daniel Goleman

Are you distracted by each and every new email as it arrives in your inbox? Over the last few weeks it amazed us as to how many people still have all those new email alerts turned on. The reasons why range from ‘we are acting for clients in the middle of a merger’ to ‘my boss will ask for more coffee during a meeting’. The latter might just be valid, but and it’s a big but, often better decisions are made given a little extra time and space to think. Ever looked back and thought if only?

As to the second reason, can the boss not phone, walk to their PAs office? Would not any self respecting PA check on such matters during important meetings?

We live in an age of instant gratification so the faster we reply the better we feel. Or do we? Constant distractions have been shown irrevocably to reduce our performance. Moreover our brain becomes re-wired to think tactically and we lose the ability to think strategically. This is one of the first major challenges facing Sophie in Dr Seeley’s new book Taking Control of Your Inbox. Max the email genie from the Clean Inbox Kingdom provide some solutions.

secretary1

  1. Turn off all those wretched new email alerts from the ding dong to the floating box. Stay focused for 20 to 30 minutes then review the inbox. For Outlook users go to File/Options/Mail. Under the Message arrival block, uncheck all the boxes. Click OK.
  2. Apply either the Pomodoro or Swiss Cheese Approach when you do switch to dealing with email. In each case it’s about identifying what is really important and dealing with those emails then returning to the task in hand.
  3. Manage sender’s expectations. Tell them when you will respond.
  4. Set aside specific time to deal with the rest of the emails.
  5. If needs be use your Out of Office message to buy time when dealing with an important task which requires your undivided attention.

Clients who have switched off all the new email alerts are always amazed at how much more they achieve in a day. As one client said last week – ‘you made me realise that the inbox is no more than a post box. When ready I will go and see that the postman has for me’.

For more help to take control of your day why not invest in a copy of Taking Control of Your Inbox (and life)?

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Articles of Note March 2016

Wednesday March 2nd, 2016, 6:45 pm

Two must reads for all managers and directors concerned with effective use of technology (and especially email) to improve the bottom line of their business regardless of size.Typewritter

  1. The billion $ e-con. A spine chilling article showing how cyber criminals set-up fake email addresses especially in the name of a company CEO. These are then used to send emails purporting to come from the CEO/MD but which in reality contain malware.

2. Is technology really helping us get more done? Twenty years ago it was predicted that new technology would help improve productivity. Now suffering acute email overload and swamped with social media alerts, most office workers feel far less effective. What went wrong? Metcalfe’s law says that value of technology increases with the square of the number of users. But the dark side of this law posits that as the cost of communications decreases the number of interactions increases exponentially as does the time to process them. Have we reached the tipping point?

And for those responsible for well-being

3. The best temperature for a good night’s sleep. The article reinforces the importance of switching off all digital and mobile devices too. A subject we have discussed before.

For the technology minded readers

4. Smartphone typing apps – a review of some of the more useful app and especially in the light of Microsoft’s take over of SwiftKey.  For Android users only see this CNET review.

Remember though that using a smartphone does not excuse you from sending email PEARLS rather than lead balloons which can destroy you and your business.

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Pen your email in plain language

Tuesday February 2nd, 2016, 4:04 pm

Five years ago the CBI complained school leaver’s low level of literacy skills. More recently poor English skills have been cited as more damaging to business than the digital divide. Poorly structured emails, and especially long rambling ones remain the bane of many people’s lives and particularly those who pick up their emails on mobile devices and/or suffering from chronic email overload.

‘Pen your Email in Simple Language’ is the seventh commandment of our Smart Email Management charter but clearly an aspect of email etiquette which is frequently ignored. Yet it save times and reduces the potential for misunderstanding. If you do not receive a response to an email, it is often not so much because the recipient is busy but because you have written it poorly.

George Orwell from http://www.counter-currents.com

George Orwell
from www.counter-currents.com

George Orwell laid out six rules for effective writing, which have served many authors.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech, which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

These rules are as relevant now as when he wrote them over sixty years ago. In the digital age I add a seventh rule – start an email with a one sentence executive summary of what the email is about and what action is expected.

What email etiquette tips can you offer for ensuring you send the right message right first time by penning your email in plain language?

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