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10 Bad Emails Habits You Need to Stop Doing Now

10 Bad Emails Habits You Need to Stop Doing Now

One thing’s sure: we all work with email. We even use them to communicate and organize our personal lives. But if you really think about it, what are emails really for? Collaborating? Planning? Managing? Group discussions? In fact, none of the above.

Emails were designed for one on one conversations (or small groups conversations at most). They should not be used to synchronize a team or plan an event, because over-using emails simply leads to productivity loss and a waste of time.

Here are 10 bad emails habits you need to stop doing now.

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1. CC’ing unnecessary people for « FYI »

CC’ing people to update them on information almost always leads to confusion. The person CC’ed wonders if he needs to take action. Should they respond? Should they forward your info? A CC’ed email contains information that most people won’t be able to process anyway.

2. Using the « Reply to All » button

When you receive an email with multiple people CC’ed, don’t automatically send your answer to everyone! You’ll just end up polluting everyone else’s inbox. Try only answering the person concerned; it doesn’t necessarily need to become a group discussion.

3. Picking the wrong subject line

The subject should be well chosen. Don’t just write « Hello from … »; instead, try to give as many details as you can in the shortest format possible. For example: « Meeting 02/15 Documents ». When receiving the email, your correspondent needs to understand what your email is about just by reading its subject. Don’t make them guess what’s inside; be explicit and concise.

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4. Using capitalized letters

Using CAPITALIZED letters won’t make your email more urgent than others, and by the way, you should not be the one deciding what’s urgent in someone else’s inbox. In an email, capitalized letters are interpreted as aggressive and intrusive SCREAMING, and they don’t build a constructive conversation.

5. Not prioritizing answers

Not every email need to be answered right away. So you should classify and prioritize them accordingly. The problem is, your inbox is the worst tool to use. In fact, your best bet might be an external application. The perfect email is an email that can be deleted; it’s not supposed to hold information. So you need to prioritize your answers in your to do list and transfer the information that an email contains to another place.

6. Using unnecessary words

Just like your email subject line, your email body should be very explicit and concise. Go straight to the point and avoid as much unnecessary blah-blah as possible. Most people don’t read everything in their emails, so if you facilitate the job by giving short useful information, by bulletproofing your content and by saying which actions should be taken, you’re saving everyone tons of time (and you’re making people happy).

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7. Using email for everything

Whether you need to say something to someone, to send information and documents, to share an idea and gather feedback, to plan an event or to synchronize your team, don’t use emails every time. Try to think about the message you want to deliver, and use the right tool for each specific message. Emails are not always the right medium to communicate what you need.

8. Managing a team project with email

Managing a team project with email often leads to frustration, misunderstanding, confusion and in the end, a bad outcome. When you’re organizing a team project, you need to delegate tasks, share information and follow up on everyone’s work. But emails are just a way to communicate, not plan. Change your habits and find a better way to manage your teamwork without email!

9. Classifying your email

Stop wasting your time classifying your emails. One good thing about email inboxes is that there’s a search bar. This feature allows you to find any information at any time. Classifying your emails will just take a lot of time for very poor productivity improvements.

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10. Sticking with email because…

It’s the only way to organize your work and the only communication tool you know? Maybe it’s time to change the way you work with your team and with your clients, and not to mention, the way you plan your day.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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