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9 Things You Shouldn’t Do with Your Email

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9 Things You Shouldn’t Do with Your Email

Email is one of our primary means of communication, yet so many people make so many mistakes with it. If someone doesn’t reply to someone when speaking to them in-person, it’s considered extremely rude; yet somehow, it’s okay to leave an email conversation abruptly? Not cool. Here are 9 things you shouldn’t do with email.

1. You shouldn’t leave someone hanging.

For a lot of correspondences, all you need to respond to an email are two letters: o and k. Actually, the person on the receiving will probably understand you with just a k. Send a letter or two to confirm that you received someone’s email. Even better, give them an idea of when you’ll get back to them. But, at the very least, leaving someone lingering is something you shouldn’t do with email.

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2. You shouldn’t ask something urgent in email.

Even though we all have our email accounts on our smartphones, not everybody is going to be checking their email unless you give them a real reason to. If you need a response by the end of the day, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Waiting for them to check their messages is something you absolutely shouldn’t do with email.

3. You shouldn’t write a novella in an email.

Almost no one’s going to read anything longer longer than 1000 words, and even that’s pushing it. Compress most of your messages into 500 words or less.

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4. You shouldn’t use your inbox as a to-do list.

An email is a terrible to-do list. Unless you’re emailing yourself regular memos, not everything you need to get done in a day is going to pop up in your inbox. However, email can make a great second to-do list. Use the app Mailbox (for iOS, Android and in Beta for OS X) to save email chains you’re not ready to archive.

5. You shouldn’t let your inbox pile up.

Letting your messages stack up is something you shouldn’t do with email. Your goal should be to get your inbox to zero emails, or as close to zero as possible. The Mailbox app comes in handy again here, letting you sort some emails into lists and save others for later so that you can reach zero with relative ease.

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6. You shouldn’t over-think an email.

You can definitely spend too long crafting an email. After a while, there’s nothing you can do to make your email any better. In fact, if you noodle with it for too long, you’ll likely start to make your message worse.When you’re 95% sure of its contents, just let the email fly.

7. You shouldn’t under-think an email.

I mentioned above that you should send an email when you have 95% certainty. Any level of scrutiny lower than that is dangerous. Grammar errors and typos are a death knell when you’re applying to a job or trying to pick up a new client. Likewise, if you’re sending a very serious, very personal email, make sure the message has exactly the right tone.

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8. You shouldn’t write something original for every email.

Only people new to lifehacking craft an entirely new message for everyone they’re emailing. That’s a habit you absolutely shouldn’t do with email. Productivity experts save templates of common messages they have to email into a note-taking service like Evernote or OneNote. A true pro even has a text expansion app which only necessitates a few keystrokes to send a long message.

9. You shouldn’t be too exclamatory in your emails.

An excess of exclamation marks is really annoying!!!! Same goes for questions marks, ellipses and especially emoticons. If you write emails super casually, the person you’re emailing won’t take you seriously. Even if you’re just emailing back and forth with a friend, you might want to try using professional language just to get in the habit of it.

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Featured photo credit: Recrea HQ via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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