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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 May 22, 2019

Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

How do you usually go about your day?

Do you wake up in the morning, get ready for work, and then spend the whole day looking forward to being at home and unwinding?

We often hear about work life balance – having a good balance between work and personal time. Whilst this may sound like a smart idea, it can also imply that we should dedicate at least half of our time to work–and sacrifice time for our “personal life”.

To me, that seems…off balance. Because, the truth is, it’s nearly impossible to split your time equally between the two. And, you may end up stressing out if you’re not able to meet that expectation of balance.

Instead, why not think of having work life harmony instead?

With this mindset, you can actually integrate work into your life in a way that feels more complete. This way, you don’t need to view work and having personal time as separate.

So, how do you achieve work life harmony?

Work Life Harmony Explained

The difference between work life balance and work life harmony is pretty simple.With the former, there is an implication that you have to sacrifice your “life” for work. But, this is the worst way to go about things! How can you truly be at peace in life if you dread 8 hours of your day?

Work life harmony on the other hand, allows your work to be a part of your life. This means that you can choose to be happy both at home, and at work! Work no longer needs to be seen as the ‘bad’ or un-fun activity.

Having work life harmony also ensures you’re truly present in whatever place you find yourself.

Just take a look at Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon for example.

He uses a non traditional approach to work by making time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn’t set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and still puts aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.

He believes that all his staff should stop trying to achieve a ‘balance’ in their work and personal lives as that implies a trade off. Instead, he envisions a more holistic relationship between the two.

As the world’s richest man, he must be doing something right!

Rethink Time Management

Now, when we think of striking a balance, we usually associate it with time, don’t we? How much time are we spending at work versus how much time are we spending in our personal lives?Are we taking enough time to be with our loved ones, to do meaningful activities with others or even for ourselves, or are we just dedicating all our time to work?

This is the so-called-balance that many struggle with.

With work life harmony, we learn to rethink time management. By re-assessing how you manage your time, you’ll have a lot more of it. It’s incredible how much time can get wasted over the period of a day–especially when you’re not accurately tracking it.

Unfortunately, unless you’re consciously making an effort, your brain is not always the best at making accurate judgement calls when it comes to prioritizing. It tends to have a bias towards short term benefits and short term costs.

As there are often many more options our brains link to short term benefit; when you’re trying to focus on a task that gives you a long term benefit, that task usually becomes low priority. This is otherwise known as Priority Chaos.

In order to overcome this and be in better control of your time, identify the tasks that need the most focus to get accomplished. If it’s a big task, then it’s good to break it down into smaller bite-sized actions that will provide you with a clearer short term benefit.

When setting up tasks, give yourself a time limit. The brain has a bias towards short term benefits, and your attention span is limited, so if your tasks are going to take ages to complete, you’ll end up losing focus… and wasting time.

Once you have all your tasks written down, it’s time to prioritize them. Since you have a time limit, your focus should be on the top priority tasks. By doing this, you will already be able to get more done in less time at work!

Have Passion for What You Do

Managing your time is important in achieving that work life harmony. But, perhaps of greater importance, is loving what you do in life.One of the most effective ways to achieve a work life harmony is to really enjoy, or find a purpose, in what you do for a living. Even though everyone isn’t always lucky enough to find a position that pays them for pursuing their passion, you can strive to find meaning in what you are already doing, or pursue something new entirely!

For example, say you work at an office that sells paper. While many people wouldn’t consider this a world changing pursuit, I beg to differ. Think of all the individuals in the world that rely on paper. From creative types to quantum physics experts, your role at your workplace brings incredible value to many many people all over the world. You will have, without a doubt, helped bring a new idea into existence. Several new ideas to be precise.

So have a think about what you’re doing now. Is it something that allows you to embrace your passion?

Or perhaps you might not even know what it is that you love or enjoy doing. Why not explore and reflect on what gives you joy and contentment? Is there an area or industry that you could see yourself exploring to experience that fulfillment?

Can you find a deeper purpose in what you’re already doing?

When you’re able to find meaning in your work, you’re that much closer to achieving work life harmony.

Don’t Be Intimidated By Obstacles and Limitations

Creating work life harmony is also about understanding yourself–which includes your limitations and past obstacles–as this allows you to become more resilient.

If you never had to experience struggles, challenges or setbacks, then you would never be forced to adapt and mature. So in theory, having to face obstacles in life is actually quite necessary.

Most of us think of setbacks and obstacles as negative. Though, if you’re able to maintain an optimistic attitude, you’ll almost always have a higher chance of success of overcoming those obstacles to reach your eventual goal.

Your attitude towards setbacks will define the outcome of whether you rise from the challenge or remain stuck in it. So, in order to achieve work life harmony, it’s important to have a resilient attitude as challenges will always come your way–especially when you strive to integrate work into your life, and not a separate or dominant part of life.

Delegate When You Need To

Of course, when you want to increase productivity and minimize the time or effort spent, a great way to do so is to delegate!

If you spend a lot of time doing tasks on your own that could be delegated to others (whether at work or at home) you’re losing a lot of precious free time that could otherwise be spent elsewhere.

At the end of the day, we all have a limited amount of time. So we should all be striving to create a harmonious work and living situation where we can find meaning in all that we do.

While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones or tasks needed to get there may be meaningful. That’s because we have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Not every task is going to be enjoyable or easy to complete. That’s where delegation comes in.

Delegation simply allows you to leverage time from an external source, thus giving you opportunities to increase your own quality of time. Keep in mind that delegation should be done with deliberate attention, otherwise you may end up over relying on others.

If you find that you’re running into the problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

Embrace the Circle and Become Happier and More Productive

Living in harmony is about feeling good about the ways in which you spend your time, despite how busy you may be.Your switch from work mode to a more personal mode should be effortless. It’s about integrating your personal life and the things you love into your busy work life!

It all begins with the shift in perspective. Understanding what your passions are, and learning to be resilient, before taking a different approach to the way you manage your time and everyday tasks.

These are steps that you can start taking to move away from balance to harmony. 

Featured photo credit: Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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