May 17, 2013

What We've Been Reading: Email Habits, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

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On this week's What We've Been Reading, we're taking a look at email habits. They can be good; they can be bad. But it's the bad ones that get noticed. But have no fear! Here are a few quick links to help you (and myself as you'll see shortly) get on the right track to email inner peace.

Zenhabits: My 10 Essential Email Habits

All right, we all have some type of bad email habit. Here's one of them and, admittedly, I'm pretty bad at this. And by "pretty bad," I mean "very bad."
Keep only unread emails in inbox. This one is for advanced users only, but I have hacked my Gmail inbox so that only unread emails are in my inbox. What this means is that if I read an email and don't act on it, it disappears from my inbox. That forces me to act now, or I will lose the email to the ether. This is built-in motivation to actually process the email, and in practice this helps you keep your inbox empty.

GigaOM: Why are bad email habits so hard to break?

GigaOM's headline for this post is today's million dollar question. Why are they so hard to break? Maybe it has something to do with the inherent risk of "I'm going to miss something if I tweak something!"
When it comes to mobile mail, today is one of the best times in recent memory to find a better solution. But changing email habits, even when they're bad, turned out to be tougher than I expected.

Forbes: Ten E-mail Habits that Send Wrong Message

From the always-urgent email message subject line to all caps, few things are worse than the stuff on this list.
Abusive Subject Line Behavior
Intention: By typing the word "URGENT," "ACTION ITEM" or "READ ME" in the subject line, she is hoping to stress the actionable items of her email. Her message is clear. Perception: Her subject line implies that she presumes her message is more important than any other correspondence you might have received. The perception is that she is over-confident and thinks very little of your time.

CharTec: Breaking Bad (Email Habits)

Does Walter White have a problem with keeping mail in his inbox? Maybe. But a lot of others do, myself included.
When you walk to your mailbox at home, do you glance at the mail then leave it in the box? No, and in fact, you can be fined for mailbox obstruction if you don't pull the mail out (I speak from experience). Once you've got the mail inside your home, do you look at it and throw it away or do you organize it? You need certain things, but what about coupons and junk mail? Do you keep that? Some do, but few should.

Do you have any habits that you want to break or any that you wish would never happen? Let us know in comments below!