Don't Send Email Messages Full of >>>

One of my email pet peeves is to receive a message from someone and it’s chocked full of carets (<>>>). With some Web-based email solutions, messages you reply to might end up with them. Clean that mess up before you send it on to someone else!

Here’s how step by step, and I’ve added a video below.

In Outlook 2007, use the Find and Replace command to find carets and replace all of them with nothing.

  1. Select the text in the email message that’s infested with the carets.
  2. Press and hold down your Ctrl key and type H (Ctrl+H).
  3. In the Find what box, type >. Leave the Replace with box empty (to replace > with nothing).
  4. Click Replace All, OK.

If you end up with blank spaces at the beginning of each line, the following trick will eliminate it.

  1. Select all the text you just changed.
  2. Press Ctrl+E to center it, then press Ctrl+L to left-align it. All extra spaces will be gone.

If you wouldn’t send a letter on your company stationery infested with junky characters, then don’t do it in email.

Here’s a How-To Video



Using Autoresponders is Not the Way to Manage Email

I saw a Feb 2007 article in CareerJournal (Wall Street Journal Website), and my mouth dropped open when I read the advice below. It is so wrong.

“Emails that don’t require an immediate reply can pile up as you respond to more urgent messages. To get them out of the way, send a quick reply to each with a canned message such as: “Thanks for writing. I’ll get back to you on this as soon as possible,” says Ana Weber, a controller at Binder Metal Products Inc., a Gardena, Calif., manufacturer, who is a part-time career and time-management coach. Then store them in a folder labeled “unread” as a reminder to attend to them later, she says.”

An autoresponder that pops back to every message people send you is on my list of 27 email pet peeves that I’ve collected. Coming from someone who teaches people how to manage email overload and addiction, has written a book about it, and travels nationally doing it, let me tell you…don’t do this.

An autoresponder like this does nothing but contribute to more email overload. You have not helped the writer, and you’ve piled up more work for yourself that you’ll probably forget about.

This is better.

  • Keep the Inbox to one screen by not using it as a database, to do list, calendar, or tickler file.
  • Get organized (paper, Inbox, and computer files) so you can find answers quickly.
  • Use the best software (Outlook) and learn all its tips and tricks.
  • Establish a routine that works for you (and the boss and co-workers).
  • Get into a meeting with your Inbox and deal with each message as you open it.

For detailed help on managing email overload and addiction, check out my book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2003. For hands on training at your place or mine, visit The Digital Breakthroughs Institute.

President Obama Could Limit His BlackBerry Use Now That He's Survived Without It

President Obama had a mountain of issues to deal with in his first 100 days, and not having his BlackBerry helped him stay focused. I’m hoping that he doesn’t get sucked back in to his BlackBerry addiction.

It’s old news that President Barack Obama was addicted to his BlackBerry. Now that he’s had to live without it, he’s benefited in ways he may not have realized.

From the perspective of a time management expert who teaches people how to manage email overload, here are  some benefits I believe the President has experienced since being forced to live without his BlackBerry.

Did his best work because he was more focused. Once the President’s addiction was in check, he was better able to complete a thought, finish what he started, and pay more attention to what counted. He has some serious messes to lead us out of and his total attention is needed to do that.

Got back ability to concentrate. The President no longer gets distracted the instant something rings, beeps, or buzzes. He is no longer walking down the street and taking a chance of bumping into poles and people while he’s thumbing and scrolling. Yes, he’s brilliant and can manage several things at once, but to lead us out of this mess, his brain cells are in overdrive and we can not afford for him to waste a single one. The results of his more focused efforts speak for themselves.

Showed staff he trusted them. He was not always “on” so his team felt more confident about believing they could get things done without letting him know their every move. Everyone should be trained well enough to make good decisions based on well thought-out processes and procedures. This being the case, it’s OK to miss an email or two.

Listened more intently. With the ringing and buzzing gone, President Obama was able to listen and get it right the first time instead of having to double-back or double-check. People come at him with everything they’ve got so not having the BlackBerry distraction leaves nothing to chance.

Made others around him feel more worthy. The most important person in the room is the one you’re with. I would not want the President appearing disrespectful by not being fully engaged. It’s best to turn the BlackBerry off in all meetings. “You’re the boss, Mr. President, and no one will say anything, but trust me, it doesn’t make people feel good when you ease your BlackBerry under the table and peek. People want your undivided attention as a sign of respect. And don’t even think about leaving it on once you’re in your private quarters.

Slept better at night. Once President Obama stopped sleeping with his beloved BlackBerry under his pillow, he was able to get a good night’s sleep and feel more refreshed in the morning.

The President has already proven that life goes on without the BlackBerry. You can do it too. People such as 9-1-1 operators, receptionists, specialists for medical emergencies, and high-level technicians on call may have to be available the instant something rings, beeps, buzzes, or dings, but why do you? As much as I love email, I don’t want to be tied to it 24/7/365. If you’ve got it so bad that your work and home life suffer, box up your BlackBerry and ship it to yourself with 3-5 day ground delivery. When you get it back, you’ll be more sensible with it. And every time you start to feel the urge to overindulge, ship it again.