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75 Common Email Mistakes You’re Probably Making at Work

75 Common Email Mistakes You’re Probably Making at Work

You’ve always wondered, right? Just what kind of mistakes are you making every day with your emails?

Well, don’t worry, I’ve put together this list of 75 common email mistakes so you can see what you’re guilty of. Let’s get started:

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Netiquette

  1. You don’t use basic greetings. Don’t forget to start with “Hello”, “Hi”, “Dear”, etc.
  2. You use ambiguous subject lines or avoid them altogether. State exactly what you want in your subject line and make it easier for people to find your emails later on.
  3. You send every email with the high-priority flag. Only use this when it’s urgent.
  4. You expect people to reply to your emails immediately and send them follow up emails when they don’t. Remember, email is a slower form of communication.
  5. You hit Reply All when you meant to hit Reply. Always check before you send.
  6. You mix up the difference between To and CC. To is for people who need to take action; CC is for people who need to be kept in the know.
  7. You CC hundreds of people when a BCC is more appropriate. Be sure to use BCC when you’re sending general emails to people who don’t know each other.
  8. You close emails abruptly. It doesn’t hurt to say thank you, sincerely, best regards or some other polite close.
  9. Your email doesn’t include contact information. Add this to your signature as soon as possible.
  10. You’ve got a really long signature. Shorten your email if you can, and consider if all that legalese is really necessary.

Writing

  1. You send incomplete emails. Take a few more minutes to finish what you’re writing.
  2. You ask people open-ended questions on email. This can cause discussions that are best had elsewhere.
  3. You use complicated sentences and words that recipients have to look up. Use everyday language.
  4. You use TXT speak, poor punctuation and bad grammar in your emails to your boss. Instead, type full sentences that make sense.
  5. You send emails in ALL CAPS to your colleagues. Stop shouting at me!
  6. You include content in the body of an email when the subject line is a closed-ended question, e.g., “Lunch at one?”
  7. You ask an open-ended question in the subject line and don’t include explanatory content in the body of the email, e.g., “I’m hungry. What will we do?”
  8. You don’t spellcheck or proofread your emails. Hint: those red squiggly lines normally mean there’s something wrong.
  9. Your write lengthy paragraphs and expect people to read them. Instead, write summaries and use bullet points whenever possible.
  10. You think unusual fonts keeps things interesting. Stick to Arial, Times New Roman or your company’s default font. And just use a variation of black; it’s easier to read.

Helping Your Colleagues

  1. You send large attachments and then wonder why other people don’t get them. Save them on the network, use cloud storage or compress them instead.
  2. You don’t send people updates about important projects that they’re involved in. Keep your colleagues in the loop.
  3. You send too many updates about unimportant projects that people aren’t involved in. Just keep relevant colleagues in the loop.
  4. You send emails when you need information urgently. A phone call, instant message or a conversation are all better and faster.
  5. You return to your desk after a break and reply to your emails one by one without checking them all first. You can save everyone time by reading all your emails first.
  6. You send the person beside you an email and then ask them verbally if they’ve received it yet.
  7. You spend hours filling an email with helpful information. Instead, write a blog post or update the company wiki so everyone can benefit.
  8. You send along chain emails because they’re a good way to pass the time. These are best kept for personal email accounts and even then, I’d avoid them.
  9. You hate email chains (that’s fine), and you don’t respond to important ones because you missed them (not fine).
  10. You don’t respect the time of the people you’re sending emails to. Keep your emails short and to the point.
  11. You use email Read Receipts. Most people find this annoying and even rude. Avoid!
  12. You use email to ask people questions, when the answers are available through a quick Google search.
  13. You forget to tell recipients what you want in your email. Say what you want in the subject line or the first line.
  14. You send steamy emails to colleagues that you’re having an affair with. You know the company can probably access your emails, right? Word will get around, so don’t be so unprofessional.
  15. You send steamy emails to colleagues that you’re not having an affair with. Ditto for point 14, with an added serve of sexual harassment charges.

Being Professional

  1. You don’t reply to your boss’s emails. Always reply to your boss.
  2. You swear or forward inappropriate attachments to colleagues via email. Remember that you’re at work before you send.
  3. You mix up personal emails with business emails. Keep them in separate accounts.
  4. You answer emails immediately and outside of office hours. Don’t give people the impression that you’re always available.
  5. You send emails when you’re drunk. Sober up first!
  6. You mistake long emails with being thorough.
  7. You mistake short emails with rudeness.
  8. You send an email to your team and CC the client on it. Keep client communications separate.
  9. You love sending pointless attachments like pictures of your cat, where you went on holidays and what you’re having for dinner. If you must, only send these to friends.
  10. You respond to emails when you’re angry. Count to 10 and take a deep breath first.

Productivity Drains

  1. You receive dozens of (unnecessary) notification emails every day from the various services that you use. Turn these off wherever possible.
  2. You haven’t read the Email Charter. Yes! There’s a charter.
  3. You pursue a Zen-like working environment, within which you focus on one task without stopping to check email. Like it or not, work will arrive through email; have a system for managing it.
  4. You phone notifies you via an audible ding every time you receive an email. Turn this off if you want to keep focused.
  5. You use email as your To-Do list. Keep your To-Do lists separate using apps like Wunderlist, Reminders or Asana.
  6. You constantly stop what you’re doing to see if you have new email. Instead, check email every hour or every other hour.
  7. Your inbox says you’ve 13,463 unread emails and you’re OK about it. Learn inbox zero or go bankrupt.
  8. Email is where your work goes to die. Stop it!
  9. You haven’t implemented inbox zero. This takes an hour or two to learn, but it will save you time.
  10. You practice inbox zero when you’re sitting on the toilet. No, stop that too!

Security

  1. You send passwords and other sensitive information via email. If you have to do this, encrypt the information first.
  2. You use the same password for your email and for all of your other accounts or …
  3. You don’t change your password regularly. Instead, get into the habit of changing your passwords once a month. And track them.
  4. You haven’t enabled 2-Step Verification on your public email accounts. Do this now.
  5. You’re excited to find out you’ve been pre-approved for a US$10,000 credit card that you didn’t apply for.
  6. Despite being warned by your colleagues, you write back to spammers just to be sure.
  7. You forward other people’s emails when there’s sensitive information at the bottom. Read the full chain before you forward.
  8. You don’t use a spyware, virus or adware blocking program. Ask your IT department to install one if they haven’t already.
  9. You give out other people’s phone numbers and addresses via email without their permission. Always check first.
  10. You log in to your email account on a public computer and forget to log out. If you’re going to use your professional email account outside of the office, make sure you are secure.

Email Management

  1. You rely on autofill to populate the address field. Instead, check the contact details are correct before you send.
  2. You send an important email, close Outlook before it finishes syncing with the server and then complain that nobody replied to your email.
  3. You respond to group emails by replying to everybody. Before you send, consider if a reply to one person will do.
  4. You use Gmail and don’t bother learning the keyboard shortcuts. They’re easy to use.
  5. You send file attachments that other people can’t open. Find out what the default applications and file formats in your office are.
  6. Your email isn’t organized into any folders, and you don’t know where anything is. Folders aren’t necessary, but they can help. However, if …
  7. Your email is organized into dozens of folders and you still don’t know where anything is; again, inbox zero can help.
  8. You email around large attachments. Instead, save them on the network, using cloud storage or another collaboration tool.
  9. You make a cup of coffee, put on a set of headphones, close down all your applications and spend an hour typing out that killer email. Don’t treat email like art.
  10. You print out emails and file them carefully in your drawer. That’s what your email archive is for.

Wait, I Thought of One More

You write a list of common email mistakes and realize you still make at least 53 of these mistakes!

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What common email mistakes do you make? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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Featured photo credit: kimubert via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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