Showing items tagged with "email overload" - 128 found.

Emails as evidence in the phone hacking scandal

Posted Tuesday August 9th, 2011, 12:30 pm by

Emails as evidence has been highlighted in the phone hacking scandal.  I have long since held the belief that one of the reasons News of the World (NoW) in the early days were so keen to settle with Sienna Miller so quickly was because she demanded to see all emails relating to herself.  However, it was never going to be long before all hell broke loose as others demanded to see such emails.  Now these demands have been made and not surprisingly HCL Technologies  who manage their email systems say they were asked to destroy more than 200,000 emails over the past year!

I utterly condemn the phone hacking and indeed may now stop reading any Murdoch publication.  Nonetheless, there are lessons to be learnt about the use of email.  Emails as evidence highlights three issues.
First, can the emails be destroyed?  Under current UK law, in theory yes.  But you can bet that someone somewhere will have kept a copy either printed off or saved to a file.
Second, it underscores the need to be so vigilant about what we put in an email.  A conversation is far less likely to be kept.  Careless emails sent in haste as busy business people struggle with email overload have been been very costly for many organisations.  For example saying ‘yes’ when a client says an error has been made leaves little scope to negotiate.  A comment which is seen defamatory may also be costly.
Third, it highlights the viral open nature of email.  An email is as open as a postcard.  You can bet your life someone somewhere has seen these NoW emails who should not have seen them.  One way or another I’d wager a bet that, try as they may to have destroyed the email evidence, it will turn up at some point like the proverbial bad penny.

Last, but by no means least, there is talk of changing the UK laws relating to email retention and archives to be more like the US law.  Emails will have to be kept and made available on demand.  That too brings its own set of problems.

This all underscores the need to think before hitting send.  If in doubt, talk first, then email later if needs be.   Before you all comment, sanctioning phone hacking by conversation is no less an offence than sanctioning it by email.

Have you ever been subject to a legal case where email evidence is included?

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Email etiquette for the vacation period

Posted Tuesday July 26th, 2011, 2:30 pm by

What is good email etiquette for the vacation period?  After all there is nothing more annoying than coming back to an inbox full of trivial messages and multiple messages from the same person.  Here are a few guidelines to win friends and not make enemies of those on vacation.

1) Stop sending people on leave emails. Start making a note of what you planned to say in an email and gather all your thoughts together in one document.  Then on their return either send it or talk them through the matters.

2) For emails with a shelf-life add an ‘expiry date’ for example,  all the trivial but timely messages like, the server will be down for maintenance this weekend, the sandwich man is in reception.

3) When sending messages which are sensitive/confidential put the words ‘confidential’ in the subject and make sure the recipient has a rule in place to send these directly to a folder.  After all you never know who might be managing that person’s box in their absence.

4) If you do ask someone to monitor your inbox whilst you are away take time to agree how they will handle your email and how they will indicate which ones have been dealt with and which still need attention. 

5) This is a good time to adopt an email free period.  Take an afternoon off from your inbox and walk and talk a little more.

These tips on email etiquette for the holiday period will help you save time to both as a sender and recipient.  They will also help everyone reduce the email overload feeling which we all experience on returning from leave.

What are your tips?

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Email overload and email charters – 9 Ps of email best practice

Posted Tuesday July 5th, 2011, 12:00 pm by

Email charters can help reduce overload. Recently Chris Anderson TED curator created an email charter which has had a mixed reception see for example Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times. There are parts of Chris’s charter I really like such as ‘short or slow is not rude’ and ‘tighten the thread’.  The disparity might be due to different cultures.

Over many years we have developed an email charter which has indeed saved people many hours across Europe and the UK.  For those with whom we have never had the plesure of working with, here is my Nine Ps of Email Best Practice.  It was first published in Managing in the Email Office and forms the basis of my latest book Brilliant Email.

  1. Put aside quality time to deal with your email – stop letting new emails distract you and don’t be afraid to take time out from the inbox.
  2. Place your emails in folders – do your email housekeeping as you go along.
  3. Prioritise and post back unwanted emails – learn to say no to the emails you don’t need.
  4. Pick the right medium – email is only one of a variety of communications channels.
  5. Point out the purpose of your email – make the subject line stand out.
  6. Pen your email in plain language – shake my hand, greet me, talk to me properly and say good bye professionally.
  7. Patrol your use of attachments – send links rather than whole files and make sure you clean up files before sending them.
  8. Provide time for the recipient – think ahead as to what other information you/the recipient needs before hitting send.
  9. Protect yourself from cyber crime – don’t put anything in an email which you don’t wish either to defend in court or see on the front page of the national paper.

Of course to make an email charter really work assumes that those with whom you work also adopt the charter and change their email behaviour.  Next week I will blog some ways we have used here at Mesmo Consultancy to help organisations change their email culture.

Meanwhile for more tips and hints how they help reduce email overload follow this weeks Tweets and make sure you sign up for our e-briefing of monthly tips and hints.

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Email overload – what would you do with an extra hour a day

Posted Thursday June 23rd, 2011, 9:30 am by

Email overload eats into our day and uses time which we could devote to other activities.  At a networking meeting today I asked several senior business executives what they would do with an extra hour a day.  Here are there responses:

  • Paint
  • Have my hair done
  • Go sailing
  • Sleep
  • Cook
  • Do some strategic planning

What would you do with an extra hour a day?  That is what you can easily save yourself if you take control of your inbox rather than letting it control you and your day!

This weeks tips have focused on how to reduce the number of rounds of email ping-pong as a way of saving time see

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Email etiquette – managing sender’s expectations

Posted Monday June 13th, 2011, 10:30 am by

Brilliant email etiquette implies that we acknowledge emails within an acceptable time frame (at least those which need an answer).  For those emails which you know a substantive and proper reply is needed than plan the necessary work into your work schedule.  They key is to manage their expectation whilst not putting undue pressure on yourself.  Decide when you can reasonably make a proper reply and let the recipient know.

Simply tell them when you will reply but don’t add a line saying ‘ is this OK’.  First, this leaves the door open for the sender to change your priorities.  They will soon say if it’s not OK.  Second, its asking for at least another round of unnecessary email ping-pong as the sender says ‘OK’ and you feel compelled to email back again.

Once you’ve acknowledged the email and planned when to deal with it make sure you keep track of the actions you need to take and also the email itself.  You gaol should be to handle each email once and not have to keep looking for those ones which still need attention.

Implement a process which enable you to find it easily.  For example, file it, place it in a pending folder or create a task from it.  Choose a way which suites your way of working and managing your day.

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