Here at SaneBox, we’re pretty serious about helping you use email in a more efficient, effective, and productive way. Behind our happy-go-lucky attitude, smiles, and beautiful software, our mission is to make email awesome.
But, we thought, let’s try a little experiment. What, exactly, would you have to do to make email truly awful? How could you kill productivity throughout your team, listen to stifled screams, and create a feeling of cold dread when your email arrives in someone else’s inbox?
We’re so glad you asked. Here’s the SaneBox Scoop of what you can do to make email into a truly horrifying experience that encourages everyone in your team to hit the “delete” key. So, with tongue firmly in cheek, here’s how to weaponize your email and make others want to kill it with fire.
Make Your Email Subject Line as Vague and Difficult to Understand as Possible
We’re talking about a monstrosity like this — “Re: Re: Re: Fwd: Re: Re: Information Request.” Honestly, there’s no need to edit this, it’s just about perfect as it is. It tells you nothing, and all those “Re: and Fwd:” at the beginning indicate this has already been through half a dozen other inboxes.
If they are able to tell what the email is about from the subject line, you’re not obfuscating things enough. Try harder.
Alternatively… Try this.
Always Use Email, Especially When Other Communications Would be Better
In a world of instant messaging, Slack, Skype, project management tools, and a plethora of other ways of getting in touch, always insist on email! It doesn’t matter if you could save your question for a meeting, have a two-minute conversation, or give someone a call — put that request in an email, baby.
People love having dozens of emails arriving into their inbox, especially if they all come from you. It lets them know you appreciate them.
Expect Others to Respond to Your Email Straightaway
Anyone who thinks they can wait to respond to your messages is wrong — you need that information right now. Your email is definitely the most important thing in their inbox, so make sure you mark everything with that lovely little red exclamation point.
Sure, you can give them a couple of hours to respond, but if they haven’t come back to you by then, they don’t understand how important your email is. The best response? Send them another email to hurry them along.
But, we might humbly suggest using SaneSnooze to hide emails until needed.
Send an Email at an Inappropriate Time
You know the best time to send an email and expect a response? Evenings and weekends. Make sure you email outside office hours and make it clear you need a response quickly. Never give others the opportunity to completely switch off from work — you don’t, so why should they?
Always Respond to Your Inbox Emails Immediately
One way to really annoy others is to create a hyper-responsive email culture in your team. As soon as an email arrives, reply to it. Encourage everyone else in your team to do the same. The idea is to create as many responses as possible, making it almost impossible to follow conversation threads, and clogging up other people’s inboxes.
Of course, our “two minutes to done” rule might help, but who needs that?
Always Send Multiple Emails as New Thoughts Occur to You
You know people who think about everything that needs to go into an email, carefully construct it, and make it easy to reply to? Losers! What you want to do is to send an email as soon as you think of something that needs someone else’s attention. Then, when something else occurs to you ten minutes later — send another email.
The More Questions You Can Ask in an Email, the Better
As an alternative to the above trick, try cramming as many questions into an email as you can. It’s even better if you can make the questions obscure. Four or five questions in an email is amateur hour, you’re really trying to get to eight or nine. Naturally, if the recipient doesn’t give you answers, be sure to write back promptly and demand to know why.
If someone hasn’t responded, you can always use SaneReminders, but why would anyone not respond to you?
Never Use Proper Formatting or Paragraph Breaks
A true master makes their email a work of interpretive art. Hitting that return key and creating paragraph breaks is only for people who have more time than you do. The more “stream of consciousness” you can make your email, the better. Avoid bullet points and numbered lists like the plague, they would make an email far too coherent. Whitespace is the work of a fiend.
CC in All the People
You don’t have time to filter your contacts. Your best bet is to CC in anyone who might have a vague, tertiary link to your email, no matter how subtle. Think of it as “Six Degrees of Email Elation” — CC in other areas and team members, just on the off chance they need the information you’re providing.
Never Check Recipients Before Hitting “Send”
Everyone deserves to read your messages. That’s why you should never check your recipient list. Who cares if you’ve copied in the executive team? They should know what you’re working on. So go ahead, create that masterful missive, put in all your work distribution email lists, and click “send.”
Who cares if your email goes to the wrong people? It didn’t hurt these folks…
Take a Long Time to Get to the Point
Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you don’t have time to chat. Feel free to shoot the breeze in your email. Ask them about their recent vacation, what they had for dinner last night, whether they enjoyed the latest movie, and how their kids are doing. It’s all about building those interpersonal relationships, and what better way to do that than through email?
Never Profraed Yoru Emial
Grammar, spelling, punctuation? Pah! If they want perfectly worded emails, they should hire an editor. It doesn’t matter if you miss out commas that change context or meaning, other people should instinctively know what you need. So what if it takes twice as long to parse and decode your email? What else do they have to do with their time?
Always Attach Massive Files
Look, just because you could use a service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or other ways to transfer files doesn’t mean you should. Always attach big files to your emails — the recipient will love downloading your 240MB video file, especially if they’re working from a smartphone.
You’re probably reading through this list and nodding in agreement because you know someone that does at least one of these things. Perhaps you feel slightly embarrassed because you do them yourself. Have no fear — we’ve all been there. Email isn’t something we all get right straight away, so if you look upon these transgressions with a little regret, it’s not too late to change! Good luck.
Avoid Burnout — How to Prevent and Cope with Stress
Stress seems to be an accepted part of modern life. We have so many demands placed on us by work, family, and circumstance — unreasonable deadlines, overbearing bosses, questioning relatives, a never-ending to do list, money problems, the emotional needs of others, and more.
It’s no surprise that almost 80% of Americans feel stressed regularly, with a third reporting very high-stress levels. It’s not healthy — too much stress leads to anger, fatigue, headaches, depression, tension, and stress-related illnesses. Half of us believe that stress has a negative impact on our personal and professional life.
Against this background, you might be wondering what you can do to deal with stress and burnout in your life. The good news is that with a little reflection, some objectivity, and a willingness to do things differently, you can significantly reduce your stress levels.
Here’s the SaneBox Scoop on not letting anger lead you to the Dark Side.
The Difference Between Stress and Burnout
Before we go on, it’s important to discuss how stress and burnout differ. Stress is about being overwhelmed, not having enough time to do everything, and feeling constant pressure and demands, from yourself or others.
Burnout is what happens as the result of prolonged exposure to too much stress. There are a couple of good definitions of burnout:
“A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” – Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson.
“A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” – Herbert J. Freudenberger.
You may be suffering from burnout if you feel a sense of hopelessness, believe that no day is a good day, feel that caring is a waste of energy, believe that you don’t make a difference, are exhausted, are cynical, use drugs or alcohol to cope, or that everything in life is dull or makes you feel numb.
Stress is generally a short-term condition based on circumstance. In most cases, stress is not constant, there are still times of relief and relaxation. In contrast, burnout is a continual, long-term problem. The important thing to remember here is that burnout is generally caused by stress that mounts up over time. By dealing with the stress, you can help to avoid burnout.
Dealing with Stress and Burnout — Personality Types
We all have unique ways of seeing the world, acting, reacting, and processing our experiences. We all respond differently to requests, pressure, and demands. Our personalities form our inner world, and they are fundamental in shaping how we experience stress. That means a “one size fits all” approach to dealing with stress simply doesn’t work.
Despite these differences, many of us fall into overall “personality types.” If we want to avoid burnout at home or work, we need to understand what type we fall into. Only through doing that can we learn what triggers stress, and take effective steps to deal with it.
Introducing the Clifton StrengthsFinder
One popular way to measure personality types is the “Clifton StrengthsFinder.” This is a personality test used by Gallup, employers, and others to understand the key characteristics of people. We’re going to explore the main personality types this test identifies, and you will probably find one of them matches you pretty closely.
It’s important to note these are not “cut and dried” personality types. Each of us is infinitely complex and has a variety of strengths in their personality. This is simply a broad-brush approach to understanding our main drives and how we can use that to avoid burnout and stress.
Achiever Personalities and Avoiding Burnout
“People strong in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.”
Achievers experience stress and burnout through:
Taking on too much work in the belief they can do everything.
Wanting to be the “point man” on every project.
Not knowing when to say “no” to work or opportunities.
Expecting team members and others to work as hard as they do
Achievers can reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout through:
Understanding exactly how fast they work and not taking on more than they can achieve before a deadline.
Taking a step back occasionally and letting others take the lead.
Learning how to say “No” and not fearing they are missing out.
Understanding that others have different working styles and adapting to that.
Competition Personalities and Avoiding Burnout
“People strong in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.”
Competitors experience stress and burnout through:
Putting lots of time, energy, and resources into coming first.
Basing their self-worth on how they do versus others.
Always expecting to be among the top performers, no matter how hard others are trying.
Competitors can reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout through:
Learning that it’s not always essential to come first just to feel valued.
Enjoying work for its own sake, rather than the rewards it provides.
Understanding that others don’t have the same competitive instinct as you, and they are driven by different needs.
Not beating themselves up of their performance is just “good” rather than “excellent.”
Relator Personalities and Avoiding Burnout
“People who are strong in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.”
Relators experience stress and burnout through:
Isolation at home or work and not having others to share ideas with.
Negative relationships and conflict, especially with other team members.
Not having a clear goal where everyone can contribute.
Working by themselves.
Relators can reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout through:
Finding opportunities to work collaboratively with others on mutually beneficial tasks and projects.
Resolving potential conflicts as quickly as possible by removing emotion and finding common ground.
Working with others to establish a clear path forward and destination.
Working in an environment which supports the sharing of ideas and actions.
Maximizer Personalities and Avoiding Burnout
“People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.”
Maximizers experience stress and burnout through:
Other people not realizing and acting on their own strength.
Others being out of their depth.
Wanting to do work on behalf of other people.
The inability to achieve significant change.
Maximizers can reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout through:
Coaching and supporting others to help them appreciate their talents.
Ensuring everyone is up to speed and has the resources and training they need to perform well.
Trusting others to be able to accomplish good work through their own effort.
Realizing that some change is evolutionary, not revolutionary and that it takes time.
Strategic Personalities and Avoiding Burnout
“People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.”
Strategists experience stress and burnout through:
Being forced to work in a particular way.
Not having the flexibility and adaptability they need to thrive.
Not being listened to when they present a more effective way of doing something.
Strategists can reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout through:
Understanding and accepting that sometimes they need to follow the status quo and the established way of doing things.
Creating systems to enhance their way of working within the overall restrictions on their job role.
Being content to accept small wins when it comes to alternative approaches.
Adaptability Personalities and Avoiding Burnout
“People strong in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.”
Adaptable personalities experience stress and burnout through:
Being forced to work to distant goals and objectives not aligned to the here and now.
Having to do work that goes against their deep instincts.
Thinking too much about the impact of unknown changes on their current activities.
Adaptable personalities can reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout through:
Figuring out how longer-term timescales directly relate to day-to-day activities and making changes accordingly.
Realizing that there are ways to work other than through intuition and experimenting with those.
Not worrying about the unknown and realizing one of their strengths is adapting to change.
Arranger Personalities and Avoiding Burnout
“People strong in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.”
Arranger personalities experience stress and burnout through:
Having to act before they have all the information needed to make an informed decision.
Following other people’s’ plans when the arranger already has everything figured out.
Inefficiency in any form.
Arranger personalities can reduce stress and avoid the risk of burnout through:
Realizing it’s almost impossible to make a “perfect” decision and being content to act before everything is known.
Collaborating with other planners to tweak an existing plan to make it more effective.
Understanding that inefficiency and waste is a fact of life.
As you can see, there are many different areas that can cause stress and as many different ways to learn to deal with it. The seven personality types we’ve discussed above just scratch the surface of the Clifton StrengthsFinder. Understanding the areas that cause you to feel stress means you can take active steps now before it becomes too much of an issue and burns you out. Good luck!
Is Email Ever Really Private? Your Questions, Answered
There are more ways than ever to communicate at home and work. Despite the prevalence of text messaging, Snapchat, Facebook, Slack, and everything else, email remains one of the commonest ways to pass messages around. When you send email, you might think the contents are private — the only people that will see them are you and the recipients of the message.
Unfortunately, that’s just not the case — email is one of the least secure forms of communication there is. We’re not just talking about the Hillary Clinton, DNC server hacks, leaks, or Russians, either — the emails you and I send every day can be easily compromised.
Here’s the SaneBox Scoop answering your questions about how your emails are never really private…
Be Gentle With Me — What’s the First Thing I Can Do to Keep My Email Private
Our first tip is a really simple one. Make sure you are sending email to the right people, and only the right people. There are several ways you can do this:
Check and double-check the “to,” “cc,” and “bcc” addresses for your email.
If you do realize you’ve sent an email to the wrong person follow up on it immediately, especially if it’s sensitive information — talk to your business security team.
But I Can Trust the People Who I Send Email To Keep It Private, Right?
Oh, you sweet, sweet child. Unfortunately, emails have this way of getting forwarded on, replied to, having new recipients copied in, and all sorts of other shenanigans.
Spoofing of email addresses
Access to account
Sending to the wrong people
Passwords in email