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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 September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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