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.
Resolutions or goals?
Blue Monday and you business email overload is still rampant. Fifteen days into the new year how well are you keeping to your new year’s resolutions? Maybe like me you did not even set any because it’s about goals rather than resolutions. A resolution is permanent, it’s immediate with effect from now for example, you will not answer emails after 9.30 pm. It’s a way of life. It can be hard.
Resolutions are good but sometimes things happen which make it hard to keep them. For example you are in the middle of major global business deal and need to check your emails late at night. With resolutions there is a feeling that you have now let yourself down. Indeed in a study psychologist Richard Wiseman found that 88% of people failed to achieve their resolutions. Whereas with goals they are more objective, specific, and long term provided they are smart.
The arguments for reducing business email overload have been well rehearsed here before and should be part of your business values. Then you can establish some smaller measurable steps to achieve it.
Smart goals for reducing email overload in 2018
Your goal might be to reduce the number of days you check email outside normal working hours to one (boundaries being before 8.30 am and after 9.30 pm)
Over time you can review and measure how often you achieve your goals and take small steps to either adjust the goal to a more realistic one or achieve it. In this case it might be to re-set either the time scales for checking emails or the number of times per week to make it more realistic for your work-life pattern.
You can reward yourself periodically as you achieve your goals – celebrate with a good bottle of wine. Conversely fine yourself for lack of achievement – none of your favourite coffee for a week.
This does not mean you cannot have a resolution and goals. A resolution might be to re-balance my work-life balance to spend more time with the family. Within that you need a set of smart goals to help you achieve this new equilibrium. Wiseman suggest that one of the keys to keeping resolutions is to make them public and have a graphic posted in a prominent place to remind yourself and others of your aim. Social media makes it easy to spread the word.
Identify what you need to achieve the goals. To restrict the times during which you check emails it might be using your email software better. For instance, a rule to notify you about emails from very high priority contacts whilst ignoring the rest and setting two types of Out of Office Message (one for internal and one for external emails).
Based on the many workshops and webinars run over the last year here are seven goals for helping you and your business reduce email overload in 2018.
This way you can allow yourself an occasional day’s relapse, yet still feel you have made progress.
What are your goals for reducing email overload in 2018?
To quote Louis Renault in Casablanca, ‘round up the usual suspect’. This applies to the recent business email overload and etiquette articles. Leaving aside all the technology predictions, here are five articles which caught our attention and are worthy of your too.
1. Curb digital addiction with these resolutions. We wish we had written this ourselves. Although the slant is on men’s addiction the article really applies to us all. It contains some very practical and easy steps to wean yourself of those smart phones and tablets. For example write something in a book and share it for others to add some comments. Phone a friend instead of texting them.
2. Porsche urged to ban emails out of hours. There is a certain irony and black humour about the Porsche trying to reform their own workforce. After all, are these not one of the most prized status symbols of those who are often the worst offenders for sending late night out of office hours emails? However, other companies are continuing to adopting similar policies to reduce email overload and help people re-build their work-life balance.
3.‘Starwars’ ‘whatever’ other terrible passwords. Starwars and Whatever are among eleven new entries into the list of the worst passwords. Poor password management is worrying in a time when each day new cyber attacks are revealed. Click here to learn how to create a really strong password.
4. How I love thee, email? Let me count the ways I hate its alternatives. Why do many of the time saving alternatives to email not realise their full potential? We are talking about applications like Slack, Facebook for Business, Google Drive etc. The author Rhymer Rigby likens it to communism ‘communism would be great if only it was done properly’. It is all too easy to blame the real-user, when these new tools fail become embedded in our every day working practices (ie you and I). Is this true or is there something else missing, such as adequate training and leadership from the top? These are all great ways to reduce email overload too, so it not time to make them work?
5. iPhone users: upgrade to iOS 11.2.2 Both the new Spectre and Meltdown security flaws can effect iOS devices and users are being urged to update as soon as possible. It’s not often that Apple admits it devices might be susceptible to such flaws so when they do it’s worth listening.
It’s that time of year when it’s easy to become complacent and let our email etiquette slip. Coming back from a festive lunch (drink or even dinner) you decide to clear the email backlog and are in a frivolous mood. Then there are all those Santa hats and jumpers you wear.
To some extent they are OK because they are here today and gone tomorrow and few remembers what you were wearing a week ago. However, like a puppy and kitten, an email is for life despite your best endeavours to recall it!
Here are five top tips on business email etiquette to preserve your professional image when all about you are losing their heads.
You might also want to avoid letting colleagues (and friends) post images of you on their social media sites with those fun hats etc. Although you can delete your posts, you do not not have control over other people’s sites. 2018 might be when you look for a new job and recruiters often look in depth at candidates internet foot prints before making a judgement.
Inbox zero was a phrase coined by Merlin Mann to epitomise email efficiency. Now it is regarded by many include Mann as perhaps a way to waste time yet still feel like you are working hard. However at this time of year we can all profit from spending a little time de-cluttering and getting ready for the new year. In this context reaching ‘inbox zero’ makes an excellent goal. Here are five quick ways to clean and de-clutter your inbox to reach inbox zero over the festive season
By now you should have a relatively clean inbox. If not – simply declare Email Bankruptcy.
Still too many emails in your inbox and no place to put them? Why not ask Mesmo Consultancy to run a Smart Email Management Masterclass in the new year?
An increasing source of stress for teachers is juggling with the pressures of email overload and lesson preparation.
These facts were confirmed by a recent Mesmo Consultancy survey looking at the email culture of several leading UK independent schools. Responses from over 300 academic and support staff identified three key issues:
1. The Instant Reply Syndrome (IRS) – the perception that fast response is required
2. The volume of daily email requiring their attention
3. How to prioritise their time – balancing being responsive to email with teaching duties
It was first published in Independent Education Today in July 2017
Here is what one client said after working with them.
I enjoy reading your blogs and you have definitely made a difference to so many people with keeping the email at bay.