53 posts categorized "Email Rules"

November 02, 2009

Don't use email to go over someone's head

From my email etiquette training program, here's a simple but hard to follow rule: Don't use email to get your way via escalation.  

I'm sure all of us have either used this passive aggressive technique or been abused by it.  Using email to pull rank on someone is a prescription for disaster.  This is just one of 12 rules that everyone should follow -- especially your employees that represent your brand.  Contact me for details on the program. 

Rule 2: Don't Email Over Someone's Head 




August 11, 2009

Is email overload too much information?

Leave it up to researchers at Harvard to prove the impossible:Email overload is good. Harvard study suggests email overload gives us a unique perspective

This, of course, assumes that the amount of information you absorb doesn't wear you down mentally and trigger depression (see New Economy Depression Syndrome.) Up until that point, though, the research suggests that a new kind of smart is cropping up: Decoding intelligence.

What do you think? Has email given you a unique lens to see the world in ways your parents couldn't? Chirp in some comments or post to the my dedicated email excellence blog!

Visit EmailAtoZ for more ideas on how to iimprove your digi-communications.

August 03, 2009

Let your bizmates have their vacation!

When one of your biz partners (employee, vendor, coworker) is on his or her annual summer vacation – do them a favor and leave them alone! When I worked at Yahoo, I put my employee’s vacation days into my calendar to remind me to leave them off threads or BCC/CCs. When there was an email that they would eventually need to see or be copied on (when they got back), I would part it in the draft folder, then send all of them the day they returned. The research I conducted for my Email Etiquette training program indicates that a person would rather get twenty emails first thing on Monday, coming back from time off, than twenty emails spread out over their vacation. Why? When you send emails to people on vacation, they feel the need to check their email more often, respond to you and get engaged again with work. This destroys the healing process of time off and is quite inconsiderate on your part. Great managers and business partners let their people take real time off. No chatter, CYA-FYI junk, just pure time off. After all, you wouldn’t call his or her cell phone twenty times while they were on vacation! Check out more ideas on better email behavior at: EmailAtoZ


July 22, 2009

Friends don't let friends sip then send (emails)

19drunk-600
Last December, the New York Times ran a side splitting story about people who send emails or texts while under the influence of alcohol (Drunk, and Dangerous, at the Keyboard).

Funny, but true, we can wreck our lives over email if we've been drinking!  In the study behind The Dirty Dozen Rules of Email Etiquette (an excellent program to bring into your company), we found that grammar and syntax errors jump almost 50% when users send emails after having a single cocktail or a few beers.  Their use of profanity jumps too. 

The lesson:  Never assume you can master email while tipsy.  Much like driving, alcohol will give you a false sense of security.  For that matter, consider blowing off email after dinner entirely.  This is very true for business life -- turn it off and get some sleep! 

Check out EmailAtoZ for more email tips.  

Does your company need email etiquette training? Let me know and I'll contact you right away. 


July 10, 2009

Drop a few email pounds every quarter

Here's an excerpt from one of my email training videos. It covers an important topic: Your bloated email database file.  The more bloated it gets, the slower Outlook or Entourage runs. 

Get more information, and find out how to bring email training to your company at EmailAtoZ.

Drop a few pounds of email every 90 days on YouTube


June 22, 2009

Going offline

Last night I went offline. 

<Fair disclosure: Jacqueline had a cell phone, purely for security purposes or if we were stranded and needed a ride. It never came out of her purse all night, though, so I was still technically offline.>

It wasn't easy, though. Jacqueline and I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see a concert.  The local Twitterati were there, snapping pics and uploading of-the-moment reviews of each set.  The texters were also in full force, looking up occasionally at the stage at the spectacle.  The amateur-paps were there, taking pics on their cell phones and smuggled in micro cameras.  All of them were only 1/2 in attendance last night. 

Me?  I went empty handed, device free -- the only way to truly be offline.  When the first act, a Motown-soul throwback singer Raphael Saadiq went on stage, I felt around for my iPhone to take a snap and tweet about it.  Ah, that's right, I promised I would be offline tonight.  At first, I felt like my following was going to miss out on a blow-by-blow account of last night.  

By the middle of Santigold's set (mostly vocals sang against a backing tape), I was fully engrossed in the night.  People watching, philosophizing and enjoying myself like a kid -- I was fully offline.  Because I wasn't distracted by any tech, toys or need to be 'working my social circle', I was able to fully immerse myself into a real-world experience.  How rare, how liberating!  

I've decided that from now on, when I'm attending something that deserves 100% of my attention, I'm going to go offline and delay my tweets until later (I call delayed tweets DT's).  I don't need to take the photos, someone else will do that for me.  For example, I saw a young man snapping pics of the headlining act (Femi Kuti, fantastic AfroPop band) on his digital camera.  I gave him my business card and asked him to send me a few pics and I would promote him in exchange.  He loved the deal.  

Going offline, I've learned, requires cutting off the mobile-digital tether. Starting out in 2002, I stopped carrying my cell phone on weekends, so long as I had easy access to someone else's or a pay phone for emergencies.  Slowly, but surely, people in my life figured out that I wasn't available over the weekends or at night. They adjusted.  They became accustomed to hearing back from me the next working day.  My life got much better, and my head cleared out.  With blogging, Facebook, tweeting and the like all of that changed (again).  So it's time for work-life-balance 2.0.

Can you go offline?  Really, can you go out this week w/o any digital devices or with a phone as a standby only?  

If you can't, I think you are missing out on life. If you feel like you need to connect with social media all the time, or shoot everything you see, you are working 100% of the time and you'll burn out.  Timothy Ferriss, a modern day philosopher-wunderkind, argues that we should only check our email three or four times a day, taking back our life.  This is a good step, something I've been working on.  

You need to go further.  Carve out two hours a day and one evening this weekend and go offline.  No checking emails.  No sending/receiving texts.  No blogging, photo taking or podcasting.  Be in the present moment, lapping up the experience with no urge to share.  Fill yourself up with analog life.  

You'll find that the experience is recharging and gives you the necessary contrast to live a full life.  It's harder than you think, though.  You'll be tempted to blend offline with online, because content comes around every where you go.  But if you don't unplug it soon, you could be swallowed up in an escalating sense of digital duty that will eventually rob you of your own sense of personal existence.  

If you like this idea, join me in making "Declarations Of Being Offline."  Either Tweet or update status at Facebook to declare: "I'm going offline!"

  

  

June 05, 2009

Don't email your bizmates while they are on Summer vacation

When one of your biz partners (employee, vendor, coworker) is on his or her annual summer vacation – do them a favor and leave them alone! When I worked at Yahoo, I put my employee’s vacation days into my calendar to remind me to leave them off threads or BCC/CCs. When there was an email that they would eventually need to see or be copied on (when they got back), I would part it in the draft folder, then send all of them the day they returned. The research I conducted for my Email Etiquette training program indicates that a person would rather get twenty emails first thing on Monday, coming back from time off, than twenty emails spread out over their vacation. Why? When you send emails to people on vacation, they feel the need to check their email more often, respond to you and get engaged again with work. This destroys the healing process of time off and is quite inconsiderate on your part. Great managers and business partners let their people take real time off. No chatter, CYA-FYI junk, just pure time off. After all, you wouldn’t call his or her cell phone twenty times while they were on vacation! Check out more ideas on better email behavior at: EmailAtoZ


April 06, 2009

An interview on email mastery

Last week, I conducted an email interview with Marsha Egan. 

Her book, Inbox Detox, is loaded with great advice on how to maximize email's potential while avoiding many of its pitfalls. 

TIM: What is the biggest mistake people make over email?  

MARSHA: The biggest mistake is, by far, that they "allow" email to manage them. People check their email on average 70 times daily, when 2-5 times is really all that is needed in an average working environment. Every time they check, it takes time. Even worse is that they allow themselves to be interrupted by the ding and flash of a newly received message. With workers receiving 80-150 messages a day, these interruptions can cause a huge productivity drain that many workers don't even see. It's like a death of a thousand cuts... Productivity is being sapped minutes and seconds at a time. The solution is decide that you own your email, which then allows you to turn off the dings and flashes, and go into your inbox when YOU decide to, and hopefully it won't be more than 5 times a day.

 

TIM: How much time a day does the average worker waste due to bad email management?  

MARSHA: This one is all over the ballpark.  Some people intuitively manage their email extremely well, so there is minimal waste, and others are continually distracted. My estimate, in averages, is one to two hours daily of wasted productivity. When you accept that each interruption takes an average of 4 minutes to recover, if a worker looks up ONLY 15 times a day at the ding of an arriving email, the recovery time for only 15 interruptions is 60 minutes or one hour. People are currently receiving 5 to 10 times that number, so recovering from those interruptions alone should average between 1-2 hours. Another way to look at it is - how much more time is it taking for the average worker to accomplish the same amount of work? It is not unusual to see throngs working through lunch, coming in early or staying late, or giving up a day of their weekend to catch up.

 

TIM: What’s the #1 way a manager can reduce incoming emails without getting ‘out of touch’ with his/her direct reports? 

MARSHA: The best way for a manager to stay in touch with his or her direct reports AND reduce the amount of email received is to talk to people. Novel approach, heh? Going back to the old Tom Peters MBWA - Managing By Walking Around - is still effective. We've got to reinstitute the culture that business requires dialogue, and email is not dialogue.  Email is a conveyance of information. So, by encouraging workers to talk things out, and by modeling the behavior, the manager will stay in touch. An added comment here is that the more trustful the organization and its people are, the less CYA email will be sent. So building a culture of trust will also minimize all those emails that subordinates send just to cover their butts. That requires dialogue, too.

For more great information on email mastery, visit EmailAtoZ

If you are interested in bringing email excellence or etiquette training to your company, contact me for more information


April 01, 2009

Space apart your mail collection to get some real work done

I've just adopted a new email technique:  Less pickups. 

After reading Marsha Egan's Inbox Detox, I realized that I'm constantly interrupted by incoming emails. Even though I've turned off the audio notification, I see the little envelope in my tool bar and cannot resist checking it. It's a constant source of interruption, and according to Egan, takes about four minutes out of my productivity each time I stop to check it.  

What she suggested in her book was simple:  Change your settings to space apart email retrieval. The default in Entourage is two minutes. I changed my settings to two hours.  Now, I get real work done and only get interrupted five times over the entire day. If I'm waiting for an email, I can manually check it, so nothing is lost.  

Unless you live in a get-back-to-me in five minutes world, this might be a good productivity booster for you too. 

PS: In Entourage or Outlook, click the Tools menu and then Run Schedules.  Double click on your Send and Receive schedule and you can make changes there!

February 04, 2009

What is your Inbox handicap?

No one that I know, except Raytheon's CEO, kills their Inbox everyday. 

Try as you will, you still have several emails left in your Inbox every day. When you are traveling, it grows to more than a few. 

Over the last year, I've been trying to kill my Inbox everyday. It is important to respond in a timely fashion, and when you get a massive amount of unanswered or unfiled email in your Inbox, it leads to stress and anxiety. 

A year ago, my Inbox averaged at least 80 emails in it at any given time.  Most of the read, some responded to and none filed or deleted.  When it climbed above 100, I blocked out time to whack it back down to a manageable size. That was just crisis control, though, not a process.  

Over the last few months, I've developed a new approach: Making it an area of excellence. I now have an email handicap (ala golf) that indicates the average number of emails sitting in my Inbox. The lower the number, the better I'm doing. Currently, I'd say my email handicap is 35.  Not bad compared to last year but still I'm no Bill Swanson (his handicap is zero). By this April, I'll have it down to 20, which would be a real improvement over 2008! 

I challenge you to think about your Inbox like this. Respond in comments with your email handicap, and later as you improve it, update your score. 

If you'd like more tips on better email living, visit: EmailAtoZ

« Previous | Next »