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.
For many dealing with the holiday email back-log is one of the most stressful aspects of taking a break. More stressful some say than, losing your luggage, having to look after aging parents or fractious children. It compels them to stay connected even although it might adversely impact their holiday (as Lucy Kellaway recently found).
Last week Daimler introduced an email programme which automatically deletes employees emails when they are on leave. It sends a message to the sender asking them to re-send the email if it is important after the recipient is back.
The Daimler system is sophisticated and most companies are not in a position to implement such a system but take heart there are other options. The key thing to remember is that technology alone will never cure email overload whatever some software providers say.
The real cure for email overload lies in changing our email behaviour. It is about re-thinking how we use email and curing what has become the hidden disease of 21st century working life – email and data addiction.
In the short term or those either going on holiday or just returning to work, there are some simple things you can do.
1) Before you go – housekeeping
Before you go away do some basic email housekeeping to clean up your inbox. For example, clear out all the old emails and set some filters to remove all the new but unnecessary emails (eg newsletters). Most email software allows you to set two different Out of Office messages. So for your internal emails, set a message similar to the Daimler system one. Indeed this is what many executives already do.
For more tips on how to clean up your inbox before going on leave see earlier posts.
2) On your return – talk and talk again
On your return, talk, talk and talk again before you even touch your inbox. This gives you an overview of anything that really needs your attention. Then and only then tackle the inbox. Triage it and deal only with the really vital emails.
For more tips see our seven step plan to reduce the holiday email overload.
3) Declare email bankruptcy
As for the rest, declare email bankruptcy. Delete the lot. If anything is that important you can be sure the sender will re-contact you.
The result – freedom from email holiday overload and the need to stay connected. Of course in the longer term you need to implement an email management change programme to better educate your colleagues about how to reduce email overload generally. For help changing the email culture do call us to hear how Mesmo Consultancy’s Brilliant Email Management masterclasses have helped other organisations like yours.
Meanwhile, what is your top tip for reducing the holiday email overload backlog? Is the Daimler approach better than staying connected?
Email bankruptcy is a good way to reduce the post holiday email overload. Here are some reason why you should declare email bankruptcy and how to do it politely.
Now that we play with our smart phones and associated devices more than we sleep it seems to me that this might be one reason why many are in desperate need of recharging their batteries properly. Will you disconnect on your holiday and take a proper break? Is the fear of returning to the holiday email backlog too worrying?
One way to over come this most debilitating illnesses of 21st century business life is to declare email bankruptcy, delete them all and wait for someone to re-contact you about anything either urgent or important. Mesmo Consultancy’s research shows that at least just under half (46%) of the emails we receive are unnecessary. During the holiday period you can be sure that of the remaining half, at least half are past their sell-by date and about a quarter will be cc’d emails with long threads which you will read and be non the wiser.
Tell colleagues that you have declared email bankruptcy and to re-send anything they think you should see. Indeed this is what many savvy executives put in their Out of Office message. The result, just a few key emails and an otherwise empty inbox.
This is a summary of a longer post which appeared on the HuffingtonPost.com
As the holiday season approaches, these are a few of the books going in the tote bag.
The Conductor by Sara Quigley. Fiction based on fact about a conductor’s drive to play Shostakovich’s music in Leningrad during the German invasion of Russia during WWII. Wise words on how to motivate people even during the most dire circumstances.
The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters. Mind Management techniques to improve your confidence through understanding that we have two competing brains – the Chimp which is emotional and irrational and the Human brain which is rational and makes evidence based decisions.
A Spy Amongst Friends by Ben Macintyre. Much has already been written about Kim Philby, but this is now seen as the definitive book.
Creativity Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Innovation by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. Based on Ed’s experiences of working with Steve Jobs it pulls out lessons on how to harness the power of the creative, obsessive perfectionist who might otherwise be a business liability.
What is going in your tote bag this summer?
PS if you are still stuck for some good reading here are ten technology related books
Training is always the first item to be cut during an economic downturn. If Mesmo Consultancy’s order books (for email best practice training) are a barometer of the state of economy, then as others are experiencing there is a distinctive feel good factor in business. We have had our busiest six months since 2011. Working with organisations of all sizes and from all sectors we are still seeing considerable scope for ways to improve personal and business performance and productivity.
Here is our pick of the top five articles and blogs from the past few weeks on ways to improve personal and business performance from reducing email overload to proof reading apps.
Suffering from email and social media disruption, feeling you have no time to stand still? This is our top pick.
A cyber attack not only dents your reputation but can also absorbs valuable time and resources on the damage limitation exercise.
Sometimes reaching for a pen and paper is the quickest way to take notes. No waiting either for the technology to boot-up or hassle if it runs out of juice.
How long does it take to get back to real productive work after you stoop to peek at either email or social media post? Sufficient time to run five miles in Roger Banister style. To be precise 23 minutes according to research from Microsoft) The moral as we have said many times before – limit all those distractions and stay in the present for at least 2o minutes.
Many top executives have amazing speed reading skills. In today’s age of information overload speed reading is an essential survival skill for all of us regardless of our position in the organisational food chain.
Do you plan either to log in whilst on leave or pack up your inbox for a well deserved break? Whilst we all like to think we are indispensable, the benefits of disconnecting from the inbox (and indeed most aspects of the wired world) have been well documented in previous blogs.
For those who do intend to close up their inbox whilst they take a vacation here are our top five tips to help you reduce coming back to a severe case of email overload.
If you feel you really must stay in contact whilst on vacation minimise how many times you check your emails to once and at most twice a day. Otherwise be prepared for some heated family arguments and possible having to deal with a wet iphone/Blackberry.
Past experience suggests that not logging in is like excess cargo which needed to be dumped (to paraphrase Diana Athill).
Reaching inbox zero on your return can be quick and easy by following this seven point plan.
Still need help downsizing your inbox and saving time dealing with email? Call us now to discuss how our Brilliant Email masterclasses can help you and your business.