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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 March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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