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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.

Books on our bedside tables

Saturday April 12th, 2014, 4:52 pm

We are still working our way through the ones on the March list.  Although another three have been added:

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang.  A delightful story about how the grass is always greener on the other side.  It also has undertones of George Orwell’s 1984.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  Oh! If only the younger generation could write so eloquently and precisely.  (However this is not a book to read if you are feeling down.  Instead read the first book.)

The Golfer’s Mind by Bob Rotella.  It’s that time of year to do some work on downsizing the handicap.

What is on your reading list?

 

 

 

 

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Articles of Note – March 2014

Saturday April 12th, 2014, 4:40 pm

Here are our top five articles of note related to email best practice (from tackling email overload to email security).

  1. Cyber attacks fallout could cost the government economy $3 trillion by 2020.  Opening a rogue email is the easy backdoor for a cyber criminal to plant a virus in your organisation’s IT systems.  Be on you guard when you see a suspicious email.
  2. 10 things to help you bridge the IT- end user gap.  It is often very easy for an IT professional to assume people know how to use new software and indeed even the seemingly most fool proof devices (such as ipads).  The executive users however may not be starting from the same knowledge base. This article provides food for thought for both the end user and IT professionals.
  3. The women who created the technology industry.  Did you realise that the first computer programmers and most celebrated mathematicians throughout history were women.  Esther Gerston and Gloria Gordon were amongst them.  See how many you guess correctly.
  4. Microsoft tightens privacy policy after admitting to reading journalist’s emails.  A salient reminder that very little is really private in the digital age.
  5. Email statistics report for 2013 to 2017. So you thought email was dying.  Think again. The latest Radicati report projects a 3% to 5% growth year on year.

What did we miss?  What was you article of note from the last few weeks?

 

 

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Spring clean your inbox to reduce email overload stress

Saturday April 12th, 2014, 4:21 pm

The boss asks you what happened to the email from Client A who says they are still waiting for a reply.  Panic sets in because you know you saw the email but now it’s lost somewhere in your bulging inbox.  It has happened to most of us at some point in our digital lives.

The challenge is to reduce the risk of it happening too often.  With the pressure of year end over and with spring in the air, now is a great time to reduce email overload stress by dusting down your inbox.  There are some who profess to being able to work effectively in chaos but for most of us having some order in our lives helps improve performance.  A clean inbox makes a great foundation to bring order to your inbox and limit the risk of an email disaster by missing an important email.

For each new email which pops into your inbox (often uninvited), your aim to is ensure it is handled once and once only.  That is to say, you apply one of the four Ds and if the option is ‘Defer’ ensure you have a fail safe process for keeping track on when you will action it.  Your inbox should be ‘work in hand’.  Yet over the last month I have heard tales of people with 1,000+ emails lingering in the inbox.  Little wonder some emails go unread and unanswered.

For those who want to do a really deep inbox clean up you can follow the Clean Inbox Week programme.  For those who want the quick flick of the duster approach here are seven easy steps.

  1. Set aside a defined amount of time for this exercise, for example one hour.  Don’t let yourself get distracted by anyone.

    Clean inbox - quick dust down

    Clean inbox – a quick dusting

  2. Sort by subject and person and delete all those old chains.  For those with Outlook 2013 use the View by Thread options.
  3. Flag (or create a task from) any emails which still need action and move them to a separate ‘Pending’ folder.
  4. Move to a relevant folder, blocks of emails from the same person, related to a specific project etc.
  5. Delete all the trivial emails and newsletters (they are old and past their sell by date).
  6. Move all the remaining emails over a week old into a separate folder, eg called ‘Old’.  Start this folder with a full stop ‘.’ and it will sit at the top of the folder list. You might also add it to your Favorites to make it easy to find.
  7. Review your progress when time is up and move onto the next task.  If needs be set aside time in the coming weeks to continue to dust down and clean out the Old emails folder.

Now with a relatively empty inbox apply the 4Ds to each new email as it arrives and implement a process for you that will help you keep track of the emails which have outstanding actions.

If you feel you and your colleagues would benefit from more better email management, please do contact us about Mesmo Consultancy’s Brilliant Email Masterclasses.  Over the last month we have helped many clients save 45 minutes plus per day dealing with their email.

 

 

 

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Recent articles of note

Tuesday March 18th, 2014, 2:22 pm

Over the past month there have been several articles relating to email overload and email best practice which I thought worth sharing, including one from my personal blog on HuffingtonPost.co.uk.

Quite email etiquette to gain attention. My top tips on email etiquette to gain recipient’s attention without shouting at them.

How to cope with email overload. The average business person spends nearly a third of their time dealing with email.  Rhymer Rigby looks at ways to reduce emails overload drawing on expert opinions including myself.

How to ditch a laptop for an ipad.  Good article which provides the pros and cons of making the switch and acknowledges it doesn’t work for everyone.

The 4 phases of a cyber attack: an infographic.  It is a download and makes brilliant graphic.  It should be on every office wall. It is a salient reminder that users are still one of the weakest links in the security chain.

Manage your work, manage your life.  Establish your goals in life and what counts as success for you rather than being driven by other people’s goals and criteria. It can be hard.  A good complementary book is Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton.

PST Management: the eliminate or migrate imperative.  We all know PST files are a security risk and unstable yet we keep using them. This paper provides an outline of how to migrate away from this approach to storing emails to a more stable environment.

 

 

 

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Stay focused to stay productive : don’t be driven by email

Tuesday March 18th, 2014, 2:19 pm

Do you need to see each and every new email as it arrives?  Do all emails carry the same value and importance for you and how you perform your job?  No.  That is judging by the responses from over 200 delegates on various workshops Mesmo Consultancy has run over the past few weeks. Less than 3% of participants confessed that there really would be a problem if they did not see an email within twenty minutes of its arrival in their inbox.

Bearing in mind your inbox is a picture of you and the role you perform, there are obviously some of you who areEmail button black more at the sharp end than others.  However, interestingly when pressed about who are these impatient and badly behaved senders, all bar one or two delegates confessed that it was an internal senior manager and not a customer/client who had such short email response time frames.

It would seem that by and large customers/clients actually do have a slightly longer fuse than we anticipate.  They expect to wait an hour or two for a reply.  They acknowledge that if it’s urgent a phone call might be better and that you as the recipient might not be at your inbox the minute they send their email.

So why do so many people let their days and life be dominated by the arrival of a new email – in some cases dropping an urgent task in favour of a new email?  Some possible explanations are:

  • Instant gratification – dealing with emails is quicker and easier than writing a report etc.
  • Email addiction – we need our fix little and very often.
  • Poor time management skills – it’s hard to plan the day and stick to the plan.
  • Strategic thinking is hard for many – it’s easier to think and behave tactically.
  • The perception that people expect an instant reply – your behaviour influences other people’s behaviour.  If you always reply instantly, you create an image that you will always do so.

For those concerned that email addiction might be the cause, you can check yourself out using Mesmo Consultancy’s free email addiction benchmarking tool – click here to start.

For others here are our tip five tips to help you focus and stop being driven by email.

  1. Switch off all those new email alerts (on all devices) and stay focused on the task in-hand for 20 to 30 minutes.  Then stop and take fives minutes out to check and deal with your email.
  2. If the task in hand is very demanding and very important – disconnect completely.  Either use the Out-Of-Office message to manage expectations or delegate access to your inbox to someone else.
  3. Tell those you work with that you have changed your email behavior and that if it’s urgent they should call you. Otherwise you will respond during the course of the day.
  4. If you really must see certain emails immediately they arrive, use the rules function to alert you to these ones only.
  5. Focusing can be hard – develop your skills to stay in the present and focused though techniques such as Mindfulness.

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