You receive an Out of Office Message, what is your natural reaction next time you want to email that person? Aside from a touch of jealousy as they are on leave and have escaped the daily dose of email overload, you just send them another email.
Is that the best email behaviour for those serious about stopping email overload and reducing the resulting wanton waste of time (estimated now to be half a day week).
One in five business users now receive in excess of seventy email a day. Yet our own and that of others research shows that less than a third of all incoming email is ever read. Take a week off and there will be at least 350 emails waiting for you.
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There is a very high chance that your email will either be missed or redundant by the time its read. However the recipient may not know that and so more unecessary emails flood back into your inbox.
Be innovative. Don’t firing of more emails. Instead write down the things you want to email the person about and either send them one email on their return or and better still talk to them.
Now watch the email traffic go down along with the email overload. You might even find you too reach the empty inbox status more quickly.
Dr Monica Seeley, founder of Mesmo Consultancy has spent the last fifteen years coaching and training people from a wide range of organisations and businesses to use email more effectively to improve personal and business performance and manage the risk associated with cyber crime. Monica is a Visiting Senior Fellow at Cass Business School City University and Bournemouth University Business School. She is passionate about helping people to save time by using email effectively and has written several books on the subject, the latest being Brilliant Email. She runs regular workshops,webinars and masterclasses on email best practice.
Do you want to reach inbox zero quickly after taking a few days out of the office? Then use your Out of Office message to stop post holiday email overload. Email overload always seems more pronounced after you come back from leave. What is more depressing and stressful than trawling your way through an over flowing inbox, only to find that many of the emails are redundant?
One very effective way is to use your Out of Office message to manage the senders expectation and make the sender prioritise what you really need to see. Simply set it to say something along these lines.
‘I’m not accessing my emails regularly between A and B. All messages during that period will be automatically deleted. If your message is urgent please call C. Otherwise if you still need me to see your email, please resend it to me on D.’
It is a form of email bankruptcy to which more and more business people are turning in order to stop the dreaded post email overload.
But what about the best of the worst. Here are two which made me laugh.
I’m off skiing until Monday January 23, and won’t be checking my emails unless (a) the eurozone finally wheezes its last or (b) all the pistes are all closed and I get really bored. If it’s urgent, though, try contacting ….
Joe (an alias) is up north delivering a workshop on pitching and won’t be checking emails regularly. If it is urgent please call on …. See you soon Joe.
I ask you what image do you now have of these two people?
Very personally I am not interested in what the person is doing, simply that they are not there should I need them. But maybe I am just an old fashioned girl!
When will people realise just how much information they give away through their Out-of-Office message and lax email etiquette?
Do you realise how much you reveal in your Out-of-Office message? Of the 135 recent Out-of-Office Message, six percent were past their sell by date which suggest a lack of attention to detail on the recipients part. Fifteen percent gave away information about clients and projects handled by the organisation, about twenty percent were insecure and left the person open to cyber crime and the rest were fine.
What makes a good safe and secure Out-of-Office message? Indeed why bother to pay attention to what your message says? A simple message is best which just states that you are not in the office and gives one point of contact in the event of an emergency. Any more (eg you are on holiday, other projects you are handling etc) and you leave yourself and the organsiation open to a breach of security and confidentiality.
It would not take a cyber criminal ten minutes to find out where you live and bing – burglary.
Every email from you conveys and creates an image about you in the recipient’s mind. A careless, frivolous message can convey a sloppy, unprofessional image of you and a sloppy organisation.
Does your organisation provide adequate guidelines on the use of Out-of-Office messages? If so what?