Dr Monica Seeley on ‘Brilliant’ email
What would you do if you could create an extra hour a day every day? Have a proper lunch break, do some personal development, spend more time with the family, finish a quilt you started 18 months ago? These are some responses to a recent survey conducted for the launch of my new book ‘Brilliant Email’.
All of them are achievable if you take control of email rather than let it control you. Why? Most of us waste at least one hour per person per day per through inefficient use and management of email. If you manage someone elses inbox you can double that time wasted!
Based on a 46 week working year (and average rate of £20 per hour) this amounts to an additional overhead of £4,600 per year or 31 days per person per year. This is time few if any of us can afford to waste. To check how much time you are wasting use our Cost of Email Misuse Calculator at www.mesmo.co.uk/calculator.aspx
Using our Brilliant Email Five Step model as shown in Figure 1, you can quickly and easily start re-claiming this wasted time and lower the levels of email stress by taking control of your inbox rather than letting it drive you and your day.
Stage 1 – Stop the email time thieves
The real key to reclaiming your life from the inbox and to take control of your time and what emails come into your inbox. Try these two tips.
Switch off the new mail alert and take control of your inbox by choosing when you will check your inbox.
Prioritise which emails you really need and use filters (rules) to help you manage the flow of emails. Say ‘no’ to the emails you do not need.
Stage 2 – Choose when to use email
Email is not the only way to communicate. Remember the days when you used to chat to your colleagues? Recall too how much other information you found out, vacancies, new contracts etc. Email can be a lean and mean way to communicate. Here are two well tried and trusted ways to escape from the email addiction which blights modern office life.
Talk first and email later.
Stop emailing people who sit within a five desk radius.
Stage 3 – Use brilliant email etiquette
How good is your email etiquette? Use our Email Etiquette checklist at www.mesmo.co.uk/knowledge.aspx to check yours Your goal must always be to communicate the right message and image right first time. The shorter the email the better.
Write your emails in plain clear grammatically correct English, avoid text speak and sloppy grammar. Remember, sloppy email, sloppy you.
Think in fives and tens. A good email should maximum be ten lines long and contain no more than five points/questions.
Step 4 – Manage your use of attachments
How many times have you played email ping pong because you either forgot the attachment or it was too large to get through the company server limits?
To save time always:
Attach first and then write the email.
Zip large files to reduce their size.
Step 5 – Reduce the risk of cyber crime
In business, the cost of cyber crime now out weighs the cost of physical crime. Remember the ‘mother-in-law from hell’ who recently sent her future daughter-in-law an email telling her how to behave? The viral nature of email meant that within minutes it was all over the world. What about all those love affairs disclosed though emails falling into the wrong hand such as the chairman of Boeing Harry Stonecipher? To reduce the risk of finding yourself (and your business) starring in the next email disaster:
Never put anything in an email which you don’t want either to have to defend in court or see on the front page of the national newspaper. If in doubt – save the email as a draft and reconsider if you really need to/should send it.
Always check carefully who’s name is in the address box – is it the right John Smith?
This five step Brilliant Email model and the tips in this article will help you to start reclaiming your life from the tyranny of the inbox and rebalance your work-life balance.