Email Etiquette: 5 Simple Tips To Get Your Emails Opened

When it comes to email etiquette there are 5 simple rules that you need to follow. If you don’t follow these rules then it will be hard to get your emails opened. It might even make the reader think about unsubscribing from your emails.

Use a more professional name as your email address

If your email address is something along the lines of ilovecupcakes@email.com, it’s time to consider changing it. Not only can a more professional-sounding address save you the embarrassment of having someone thinking you’re talking about your love of cupcakes when you’re really discussing an important workplace issue, but it can also help people take you more seriously. If you want to be taken seriously by your boss, a potential employer, or even just an acquaintance, it’s important that your email address doesn’t give off the wrong impression. You don’t have to go with something boring. Just make sure your name is part of the address so that people know who they’re hearing from.

Be concise and clear in the subject line

You need to get your subject line right. If you think of the subject line as a headline, you’ll get the idea. You want to make sure it gets attention, but it also needs to convey the right information. Keep it short and sweet. The average person has an attention span of 8 seconds, so you don’t have long to capture their interest. In just a few words, they should know what they’re looking at and whether they’re interested enough to open it.

If there’s anything that seems like it could be imperative or urgent in the email, put that in the subject line. At the office, people are judging whether your email is worth opening based on how much time will be required of them when they do so. If your email looks like it could be a quick yes/no answer, it will most likely be put off for later.

Avoid spam trigger words

This is one of the most important tips for email marketing. Don’t use spam trigger words. Use clear copy and avoid words used in spam emails. Some examples include: ‘free’, ‘discount’, and ‘money’.

email etiquette
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Be specific about why you are reaching out

If you want someone to respond to your email, then you need to give them a good reason. If all you do is write “Hi” and ask them to check out your blog, they will probably not click on the link. The more specific you are about why you are reaching out, the more likely that person is to respond. For instance, if you’re reaching out to someone from the same town or geographical area as yourself, let them know at the beginning of your email.

Or mention that you read their blog and felt inspired by something they wrote. Always include a call-to-action at the end of your email. This could be anything from asking for feedback on your own blog post to inviting them to connect on social media.

Email etiquette: Avoid text speak in your emails

As a rule, it is considered unprofessional to use “text speak” in your emails—that is, the abbreviations and shorthand that you might use when texting or chatting with friends. You probably already know not to do this in the subject line of a business email. However, sometimes it can be tempting to slip into this mode when composing your message. This is especially easy if you’re working from home and feeling more casual.

Resist the urge! Even if you’re writing an email to someone you know well, it’s important to maintain professional boundaries in what you write. For example, instead of saying “LOL,” say “That’s funny.” Instead of writing “2day” for today, write out the whole word. And so on. There are plenty of other places for you to use text speak—just not in your business emails.

Takeaway: Your emails will get more people to open and read them if you follow these 5 tips.

You Need to Add Legal Pages to Your Blog

If you haven’t added legal pages to your blog, this is your sign to consider adding them today. I started my blog in February 2021 with no experience and no guidance. I found all of my resources through free sources on YouTube or just Google searching for things I needed to know.

Going into 2022, I’m ready to buckle down and figure out how to make this a business that makes money. Little did I know that not having legal pages was something that had the potential to ruin my new business before it even started.

Back on Track

But now, I’m on track by purchasing The Legal Bundle from Amiri at A Self Guru. The bundle contained a template for the privacy policy, disclaimer, and terms and conditions.

Reason 1: Protection

Well, the first and biggest reason is that it protects you from potential lawsuits. By letting people know that you are simply sharing information or that you are an affiliate, it creates transparency about what you do as a blogger.

The internet is a wonderful place to find information and connect with others. Unfortunately, it’s also a place where lawsuits can be filed.

You may have heard about the legal issues surrounding bloggers and the law. Whether you’re just starting out or have been blogging for years, you need to know how to avoid getting sued.

One of the best ways to protect yourself is by adding legal pages (affiliate link) to your blog’s website. This way, if someone goes after you for any reason, they will see that you’re serious about protecting yourself legally.

Reason 2: Law

Secondly, privacy pages are required by law in many countries around the world. So if you are planning to turn this blog into a business, then you need to add that in. You can create a page for each of the important legal pages and link to them in a toolbar, header, or footer.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to inform your users about what information you collect and how you use it. You should also inform them about the cookies or other tracking technologies that are used on your website. This way, your visitors know what information about them may be collected and how it will be used.

Reason 3: Trust

And third, having legal pages creates a sense of trust for your readers. You know that feeling when you’re on a blog or website and you see a page titled “About,” “Legal,” or “Privacy Policy?” It’s a good feeling. You trust the site more because you know that they care about their users.

It means that you take what you do seriously and so should they. And of course, I want that! This might have started as a hobby blog or a way for me to express thoughts. But, I now wish to utilize this platform to continue sharing knowledge with others.

Create that feeling

You can create the same feeling for your users by adding legal pages to your blog. Not only will it make your blog feel more professional, but it will also help protect you from liability if anyone ever sues you.

white ceramic mug between apple magic keyboard and two flat screen computer monitors - legal pages to your blog
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When you decide to add legal pages to your blog, you could spend hours, days, or weeks, researching free opportunities online and creating your own. But then, you run the risk of leaving out important details or overlooking something because you don’t have the expertise.

Not to mention all of the time wasted that could have been spent developing posts or adding affiliate links to make money on your blog.

Or, you could spend thousands of dollars hiring a lawyer or expert to write everything for you. Personally, I don’t have thousands of dollars lying around right now to spend on this purpose. I will though someday!

Recommendation

I decided that I wanted to go with a trusted source, someone who is a blogger and a lawyer. So I purchased the legal bundle from Amiri at A Self Guru. And now, as I think about incorporating my blog into a business, I’ll likely purchase the LLC template next.

The price was fair and reasonable, and I look forward now to figuring out how to start managing my business expenses in 2022. So what are you waiting for? Add legal pages to your blog now!

Get the Legal Bundle from Amiri at A Self Guru!

It’s Time for a Digital Decluttering NOW

Let’s do a digital decluttering! We often hear about the importance of decluttering our physical environment. But with the amount of time we spend online these days, the digital environment is just as important.

So how much time do people spend looking at a screen anyway? One report showed that the average American spends just over 7 hours a day on screens. That’s a huge chunk of our day. So, it is important to make sure that the screen time is organized and not chaotic.

Decluttering has many benefits, such as increased focus, a better lifestyle, and even a higher view of one’s self. I know when my physical environment is clear, I feel more at peace. This is often why I have to clean off my desk or table before even beginning to work.

digital decluttering
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Tips for a Digital Decluttering

Start with your offline digital space

Desktop

Think of the digital spaces as online and offline. So, starting with the desktop offline – Do you have documents saved on every inch of your desktop? Start by making folders and dragging relevant files into the folders. Then, you can group the folders or color-code them. I created a background on Canva that helps me group my folders.

Go through your applications folder

You can either manually remove files and applications you no longer need or utilize a service. Personally, I subscribe to Avast Premium, which declutters the files on my computer and recognizes which ones are taking up a lot of space.

Move to your online space

Email!

When you move to the online portion of your digital decluttering, make sure to spend some time on email. Some initial steps would be to archive all of your current messages. I wholeheartedly believe in inbox zero to the best extent possible. Unsubscribe from everything you don’t need.

Group tabs

Are you guilty of having a million tabs open on your desktop? Utilize resources to make it fewer tabs. One tip is to utilize a chrome extension called session buddy. Another option is to use the grouping feature in the Google Chrome browser.

Online/Offline

Another way I like to declutter and organize is by creating multiple desktops. On a Macbook or PC, it is easy to separate your tasks into different desktops.

Moral of the story: as with your home, car, or office, keeping an organized digital space is an essential part of maintaining a productive groove.

It’s Almost a New Year! Time to Clean Up Your Email Inbox

I write this post on December 28th, 2021 reflecting on the past year and gearing up for the next. And it’s time to clean up your email inbox. I love the fact that January 1st provides a set date to start over, but the truth is, you can do this at any time. So, if you’re reading this at a different point throughout the year, the advice and tips still apply.

If you’re anything like me, your email and phone notifications and inboxes are just filled to the brim. Now, I do my best to maintain a zero inbox and minimize any notifications that will disrupt my thought process. However, things sneak up over time and it’s important to do a reboot of your process if necessary. For me, it’s time to get my email back in order.

Why I’m Feeling This Way

Now, I only have a few emails in my inbox at the moment so you might think that I’m doing a great job at managing emails. However, over the past year, I have joined different newsletters and applied to various jobs. That means that the volume of emails I’m receiving is still pretty high. So even though I’m wading through them, it takes more time than I would prefer.

It’s also a reflective time of year that makes me evaluate all my systems as I think about the goals I want to achieve for the upcoming year. And one of my continuous life goals is to be more reflectively productive. Not just productive for productive’s sake, but being truthful with myself about what’s working, what’s not working, and what causes extra unnecessary tasks.

So, before you jump into overhauling your email inbox, make sure it’s a priority that will help you. I listened to Ali Abdaal’s recent YouTube video on how much money he spent and he made a point about the money he spends ordering takeout. Cooking is not a priority so time isn’t invested in doing it or learning how to do it better. Make sure to invest time in the things that are a priority for you.

time to clean up your inbox
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

Time to clean up your email inbox: Strategies to help you

  • Review any emails that come through a subscription
    • I often sign up for new things not realizing how many times per day or week the organization will email me.
    • Sometimes I change the settings to once a week
    • Other times I just decide not to get that newsletter anymore because it’s no longer helpful. Use the auto unsubscribe feature in GMAIL or go through the organization’s system.
  • Create filters
    • Not every email has to clog up the inbox upon arrival. You can create filters to send emails to folders. Or, have it enter with a label based on a specific sender.
    • Filters help create visual clues about important emails upon arrival. For example, you may have a client or boss that demands immediate responses. Create a filter so it stands out when you are glancing at your emails throughout the day.
    • You can also set up notifications so that it only interrupts your workflow if it is from certain people.
  • Archive old emails
    • If you want to get started with an inbox zero, then archiving everything is a way to start. If you are not sure how to get started, then follow this guide.
    • My personal email account had tens of thousands of emails before I started doing this. I signed up for it in 2005 and since it is my name, I have kept it ever since.
    • No one has the time to review thousands of emails so simply archive all of them and start doing inbox zero moving forward. They will still be accessible through search so nothing is actually deleted.
  • Set boundaries
    • Decide how often you plan to check your email.
    • Decide what devices you will keep your email on.
    • Decide if you will get notifications via a sound alert or banner.
    • Set personal time aside where you will not check your emails at all – perhaps even for a day or two.

Now, these are all suggestions I have incorporated into my own routines over the last few years. As with life, my process and systems ebb and flow to match my current endeavors and productivity needs.

Comment below with any helpful email tips to start the new year!

How to Be Productive After Time Off

How to be productive after time off is a big question. We all deserve our time to unplug, destress, and spend time with ourselves or our family. Whether that is to take a vacation or much-needed self-care time, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things.

I built a vacation into my arrival to Norway, with many months of preparation leading to this point. I felt guilty at first, but then I remembered how much time I put into getting my permit, online orientations, building out workshops, etc. So, if they said I should get my bearings before diving in, who was I to argue?

However, now that I know my way around the city a bit, I am ready to start my new job. Last Wednesday was my first day at the office picking up the iPad and phone that I will use as I travel.

I am finally somewhat adjusted to the time change, and tried my best to follow my previous morning routine with breakfast, affirmations, and planning time for the last several days.

how to be productive after time off

Now, it is Monday of a brand new week and I am going forward with getting back into “normal” work weeks. While I will occasionally have travel on the weekends, my hope is to prioritize working during the week. Then, rest on the weekends.

How to be productive: Here is what I am doing to get my productivity energy back:

  1. Get back on track with a morning routine, even if it’s just a few things. For example, today, I got up, stretched, made coffee, and wrote out my affirmations. Tomorrow, I will make my bed and spend some time in silence. I hope to add running back in to the mornings before work time.
  2. Create a healthy balance of work and personal time. I started emailing and to-do lists around 8:30am this morning. Now, I am about to break for lunch and go on a walk. I have to teach tonight from 6:30pm – 8:00pm so I don’t feel guilty about taking a long break in the middle of the day.
  3. Be forgiving with myself if I’m not on my “A” game right away. So, I did hit snooze this morning (a terrible habit I have been trying to break this whole year). I am disappointed that I reverted back, but I am not going to dwell on the mistakes of today when I can plan for success tomorrow.
  4. Re-start check-ins with my accountability partner. When I tell you that checking in weekly with someone is a game-changer, I mean it. For 2 years, I meet weekly with an accountability partner. We go over our weekly goals, our long term goals, time and scheduling challenges. Additionally, we provide much needed advice and encouragement.
  5. Sync Google calendar on all my devices. Because I picked up my new work technology, I need to sync everything so that all my calendars match up. I prefer using Google Calendar to track meetings and appointments. On my iPhone, I link my google account to the Apple calendar.

So, that is my recommended start to easing back into productivity. Most importantly, not trying to do everything all at once!

10 Items to Spruce up Your Home Office: Amazing Amazon Finds

It seems like the work from home options are here to stay long-term. Even before the pandemic, remote work was gaining popularity from both employers and employees. With streamlined communication and proper procedures, it can be a great way for companies to allow workers more flexibility in managing their time.

In this post, I wanted to share some of the products that I find to be helpful in my home office. These are in no particular order and I’m happy to share more if this list is helpful!

  1. Waterproof desk mat

2. Atomic Habits by James Clear

3. Electric cup warmer

4. Ergonomic mouse pad

5. Power strip with USB port

6. Mini vacuum for keyboard and crumbs

7. Motivational desk plants

8. Monitor message board and phone holder

9. Desk organizer for stationary

10. Alexa as a virtual assistant


Best Sellers in Office Products

Blogging in 2021 – Sharing My Stats 6 Months In

Well, I know blogging is not a get rich quick method and it takes time, patience, and strategy to truly develop a quality blog that people trust and go to for tips and advice. I’ve also researched the importance of developing a niche that helps Google give you domain authority over that niche. However, my blog is more of an opportunity to share my voice and things I’ve learned with others. It also gives me an outlet to write about the things on my mind and almost use it as a journal of sorts.

I wanted to share some of the stats I have had since February 2021 when I first started publishing posts on this blog. Although I have been working on learning Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I still have so far to go. I know many bloggers get exceptional returns through the wonderful world of Pinterest marketing, but I have not mastered that yet either. I am proud of how far I have come in this process considering I was finishing grad school and working 2 part-time jobs when I started. In the last 6 weeks, I have been working at least full time in one job and consulting still with the other.

Now that I have an upcoming new adventure with a ten day quarantine, I feel like this is the perfect time to reflect on what is working and try to amp up the posts and marketing even more. I can use the time for self care and get one step closer to reaching my ultimate goals. Also, consider this an encouragement for any of you out there still blogging away waiting for those page views to go up.

Here are my page view and visitor insights:

As you can see from the green shading in the chart, May and June were the months with the most page views. I even hit 1,000 in May, which was amazing. At that time, I was gaining steam in posting consistently about 10 times a month or so. As you can see in August, the posts took a dip as did the page views. At the time of this current blog post, I have 210 people following my blog (THANK YOU FOR STICKING WITH ME!). In theory, that means if I posted 10 times a month now, and every person clicked on each post (not just in the reader view, but actually click on my blog post), then I should be reaching 2,000 views for the month. And that doesn’t include all the people who may find the post and then not subscribe to the blog itself.

Now, onto the money side of things with Word Ads. I do have that enabled, but you don’t actually get paid from WordPress until you earn $100. Additionally, I can’t apply for other ad programs like MediaVine until I have many more page views. It’s a goal, so I will report back when I do reach that milestone.

So far, my total earnings from blogging in 2021through August are $6.67. My best month was June, when my average CPM was $0.54. This is great for me now, but once I’m able to partner with bigger advertisers, that will be in the $7-$30 range hopefully.

I’m still going to continue to develop and find my niche, but for now, I enjoy what I’m learning and sharing it with you all in the process!

Helpful Communication Tips and Suggestions for Virtual and Remote Teams

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, many teams had to switch to a virtual work setting with little to no time to prepare. Helpful communication tips are a must. What have we learned since then? How can teams communicate effectively when they are not in the same place?

Truthfully, I believe that the future of work is hybrid with CHOICE. Some people work better in an office. Some work better at home. Some, like myself, need to mix it up. I enjoy being in the office for the socialization piece of getting to know my colleagues. However, I do enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home and getting to dictate my own schedule and work without interruptions I choose to do so.

As I’ve worked with several organizations over the last several years, here are my top 3 tips for positive communication within virtual teams:

Helpful Communication Tips:
Set clear guidelines and expectations

It is important to know how frequently you should hear back from a colleague and when it is necessary to send reminders. Sharing calendars can be a great way to know when others are free or busy. You don’t have to share all of the details of your calendar with colleagues. It is even helpful to block out specific quiet work time on your calendar and then others will see that you are busy.

If people take personal time, respect that. I think now more than ever, we are understanding the value of family and health taking priority over the work, work, work culture. However, also be sure to know when it is appropriate to email, phone, or text. Cell phones have become part of the workplace culture, but unless it belongs to the company, I try to keep mine primarily for personal use whenever possible.

Think about as a team the problems you may run into if someone doesn’t respond. How will you get a hold of them? How long should it take for a response? Can you set up away messages on Slack or email when you’ve stepped aside for some time? These are all things that your team can discuss and come to common expectations.

helpful communication tips
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Helpful communication tips:
Leverage technology to automate and collaborate

Many organizations use virtual communication tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. It is an easy way to send messages and let people know when you are away from your computer. I work strange hours to get my stuff done, but I don’t always want people to know I’m working late at night. So, I will often use the schedule send feature of Gmail to send emails out around 8:00 am in the morning. If someone sees I’m on and working at 9:00 pm, they may start to message me or expect a quick email response. I personally am trying to establish clear work and personal boundaries by automating what I can.

Other great ways to utilize technology would be to share project management systems like Trello or Monday.com. These platforms offer a space to visualize shared projects and create deadlines and notes.

Helpful communication tips:
Keep running meeting notes in Google Docs or Microsoft Sharepoint

One strategy that my team used this past year and a half was to keep running notes on a Google Doc for our weekly check-in meeting. We would go over the agenda items from the previous week, see what was new on our to-do list, and use the assign task feature to automate emails to the team on who was going to do what. We then had a recurring Google Calendar invite that included the Zoom link and Google Docs notes that we could all access.

It was clear and kept us all organized and on the same page as we prepared for events and programs.


Now, every team and group has its own dynamics and energy. It is important to listen to one another’s ideas, try new things, and be mindful of what just is not working. Perhaps the team leader can even put together an anonymous suggestion line where staff could come up with some solutions to communication issues that the team is having.

*Affiliate link* Check out Speechelo to turn text into voice overs!

The Importance of Eye Health When Working From Home

*Post contains affiliate links

After working on the computer and being on video calls throughout the day, do your eyes feel more fatigued than ever? I know I am often more tired than I used to be when I could actually have face to face conversations with people. And it doesn’t seem to just be me. My friends and coworkers are all saying the same thing.

In a study conducted during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers sent a questionnaire to over 1000 participants about their computer use and eye strain (Ganne et al., 2020). They found that digital eye strain was highest among students taking online classes, followed by teachers teaching online. Additionally, eye strain was highest among those who were younger, had increased screen time, and poor habits of not taking breaks (Ganne et al., 2020).

Those of us working from home need to come up with strategies to give our eyes a break. It’s just as important as stretching or standing to combat back and neck problems from sitting for long periods of time. Here are some of the things that I use to help keep my eyes as refreshed as possible in the digital world of work.


Strategies to combat eye fatigue:

  1. 20/20/20 rule

Originally suggested by Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, the 20-20-20 rule was developed as a way to reduce digital eye strain as computers began the rise in popularity for work and home. With the onset of the pandemic, this rule gained new momentum as a recommendation for anyone staring at their computer screens for long periods of time. Essentially, the rule states that you should look away from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at something that is 20 feet away. Well, I don’t work in a 20 foot long office, so I try to look out the window to get my distance in. I use Alexa as my timer to help make sure I remember to follow this rule.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the computer screen is eye level so you’re not craning your neck and that the brightness is set to a comfortable level.

2. Blue light blocking glasses

I have heard the recommendation to not look at screens anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before sleeping because it can disrupt the sleep patterns. However, the research is mixed on whether blue light actually contributes to digital eye strain. Personally, I have found fewer headaches and fatigue when I do wear my blue light blocking glasses. If you already wear glasses, it can now be added in to your lenses in many eye doctor’s offices.

3. Take breaks

Simply stepping away is a great strategy to give your eyes a break from the screen. In addition to the 20-20-20, make sure to step away from the screen multiple times throughout the day for extended periods of time. It’s easy to wake up and immediately grab our cell phones because they are right next to us. In order to remove the temptation of using my phone first thing in the day, I bought an actual alarm clock that I use. I try to be intentional about taking a lunch break where I’m outside away from technology whenever I can.

Other strategies to help combat eye fatigue include making sure the computer is at the right height and using a laptop stand if needed, making sure you have proper lighting in the room you are working in, and changing the brightness or glare on the display you are working on.

Whatever you do, practice being mindful of how you are feeling and take steps to care of yourself!

Sources:

Ganne, P., Najeeb, S., Chaitanya, G., Sharma, A., & Krishnappa, N. C. (2020). Digital Eye Strain Epidemic amid COVID-19 Pandemic–A Cross-sectional Survey. Ophthalmic epidemiology, 1-8.

Does Every Meeting Need to be Video?

After over a year of pandemic working, I think we can safely assume that many people are burned out from Zoom. A recent article, citing research by Dr. Jeremy Bailenson, explained why Zoom is in fact so much more tiring than meeting in person or just simply having a conference call. I encourage you to read the article, but the short version is that we have lots of close-up eye contact, looking at ourselves more, higher cognitive load, and that mobility is reduced. The article linked above offers some solutions to these issues.

Meetings take up so much time in our work schedule, and the reality is, does everything really need to be a video meeting? The default was Zoom this past year, which grew from 4 million in revenue in 2018 to 21.7 million in 2020. And now it almost seems like people have forgotten the phone since we aren’t necessarily walking to our coworkers office. Now the question becomes how many people are planning to go back to the office? What does the future of work look like? And if people continue to work from home, do we need to continue video meetings all the time?

Personally, I have started to ask for a phone whenever a video isn’t necessary for the communication piece. Yes, a lot of communication is nonverbal, but quick check-ins can be much more expedient through a phone call rather than waiting for everyone to log into Zoom because inevitably someone will talk and forget they are still on mute and then have to repeat themselves anyway.

I admit, my default this past year has also been to just initiate a Zoom meeting from the get go. However, I’ve started to ask people what they prefer when scheduling meetings. A little over a month ago, someone asked for phone and it got me thinking about how automatic my response is these days to schedule a Zoom. So now I like to give people the choice. I have found that even if you are sharing documents, you can actually do so by using Google Drive products and just use your full screen to view the shared document while having the phone on speaker.

However, my very informal Twitter poll is informing me that 82% of the people voting (of my tiny sample size), do in fact still want Zoom for a meeting with 2-3 people, and someone even commented that they prefer phone for 2 people, but Zoom for 3. So perhaps there’s an advantage to Zoom with the more people you have on the call. It’s certainly easier to tell who is speaking when you can see their little square light up.

For me, I’m going to start scaling back on the video and upping my phone usage, or maybe just declining meetings in general. Perhaps it just needs to be an email. Check out this post for some email tips and this post for video tips.


Pro tip: When scheduling meetings, be empathetic to the people you’re asking to be on video. Ask them if phone would be easier. Maybe they need to do the dishes on the conference call or maybe, just maybe, like me, they are Zoomed out.

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