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 and email addiction

Thursday January 6th, 2011, 11:56 am

One of the major contributors to email overload is our propensity to email addiction (and social networking in general).  Whenever I am with friends who have children (and friends) who are predominantly from Generation Y and younger the cry is why can’t they detach themselves from their mobile communications devices (eg iphone, Blackberry etc).  Some say that even over family meals their siblings are still checking their phones and it drives them mad.

My own research (see for example Inbox-Outbox 2007 survey and Why are we so bad at switching off), and that of others suggest that we do indeed suffer from a bad case of email addiction.  The more emails you send and the quicker you respond, the more you receive?  How can we reduce email addiction?  Here are three tips.

  1. Go cold turkey- switch it off, revert to a conventional mobile phone out of normal office hours.
  2. Check your emails at set times and reward yourself when you keep to those times.
  3. Give people a reason and a reward if they to talk to you rather than email you.

I will re-visit overcoming email addiction as it is such a prolific problem.  Meanwhile, for more immediate tips take a look at ‘Brilliant Email‘.

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Did you log in on Christmas Day?

Wednesday January 5th, 2011, 2:27 pm

Results to date reveal that over 60% of us could not resist the temptation!  If you have not yet responded, please do.  Meanwhile, my thanks to everyone who has taken the poll, and especially for all those fascinating comments.  Poll will remain open for another two weeks, then I will compile the responses.  For those who have reducing their email addiction in their new year’s resolutions – more in Thursday’s blog.

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Email overload the new year’s resolutions

Tuesday January 4th, 2011, 9:52 am

Email overload really does take its toll on individual’s and business’s productivity.  For a reality check use my Cost of Email Misuse Calculator.  It’s not just the quantifiable lost time and money, it is also the hidden costs such as the distortion of the work-life balance, stress and higher carbon foot print. See earlier blogs.
With this in mind here are my New Year’s resolutions to help me be a little more productive and less addicted to my email.

  1. Check them no more than five times a day.
  2. Stop emailing after 10.00 pm.
  3. Use alternative media more, such as the phone, my blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  4. Continue to spend about thirty minutes a week on email housekeeping and slimming down my inbox.
  5. Check my emails more carefully for typos and spelling mistakes (hard to spot errors when you are dyslexic).
  6. When in doubt – put the email in the draft box and re-check a few hours later as to whether or not it really needs to be sent.
  7. Remember, that not every email needs a reply.

Being cited as an expert and the Emaildoctor on Twitter everyone expects that I will have it sussed, but there is an element of being both the tailor’s daughter and the worst patient.  These are my personal goals for 2011 to contribute towards reducing the email overload that confronts us all.
What are your new year’s resolutions to help the fight against email overload and its drain on personal and business productivity?

There is a free copy of ‘Brilliant Email‘ for the best response.

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Email overload – continuing the inbox diet: the case against folders

Thursday December 30th, 2010, 11:38 am

There are many who simply keep all their emails in their inbox.  It’s not uncommon to see inboxes with over 5000 emails some of which are over seven years old.  Philip Delves Broughton reminded us yesterday that personal organisation is the ‘weight loss of industry and business’.

Your inbox and how you manage it is very much a reflection of you.   Often those with unruly inboxes have desks with papers piled high. That is not too say that they are any better or worse than their colleagues with immaculate desks.  But information is a key asset for any business. 

Those who rarely use folders would say the main reason is that email housekeeping is a waste of time.  Surely the task should be automated by the software.  To some extent this is true for those with email archiving systems and a related retention policy.  They also say it takes longer to find items because they can’t remember where they are filed.  For some, believe it or not, it is simply that they just don’t know how to use their email software properly.  On every Smart Email Management workshop at least twenty percent say they need help both to create a good folder structure and use the associated  software tools.  How good is your level of Email IT Fitness?

What’s your opinion of the use of folders?  If you don’t use them, why?


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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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