Career, Infographics, Self-Improvement

[Infographic] Email Etiquette – Vanessa Tai

Gmail users, I’m sure you’ve noticed the changes made to your inbox. Your mails are now automatically sorted out into three categories – Primary, Social and Promotions – and you have the option of creating two more categories as well. While this function helps you sift through the avalanche of emails you get each day, unfortunately it doesn’t quite filter out the type of emails that make you seethe. You know the type – CC-ing the entire office, forwarding an email with no indication of what you’re supposed to do with the information, and so on.

Does your inbox look like this?

Does your inbox look like this?

According to a 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute, the average office worker spends 28 percent of his or her time reading and answering e-mail. Based on a 40-hour work week, that works out to 11.2 hours per week! And that’s just within the office. With the proliferation of smartphones, we’re constantly plugged in and checking our emails wherever we are.

So given that we’re all flooded with emails, is there some way we can improve our email etiquette and lessen the recipient’s grief? According to a study done by Sane Box – a service that helps filter emails – recipients take an average of 67 seconds to clear their heads after reading one email. That means almost one-and-half hours per day just recovering from emails!

Here are some common “email crimes” … are you guilty of any of them?

1. CC-ing Everybody
Your intention was probably to keep everybody in the loop, but it’s actually counter-productive. Without proper instructions, people might get confused as to why they were CC-ed in the first place. It’s more effective to only include the specific people directly responsible for what needs to be done.

2. Endless Back-and-Forth
Sometimes, when it comes to complicated issues, it’s much easier to pick up the phone or meet the person face-to-face for a discussion. If you prefer to have everything in black and white, you can always send an email after your discussion to recap what had been discussed.

3. Sending Large Files
With services like Dropbox, WeTransfer and YouSendIt, there is no longer any reason to clog the recipient’s mailbox.

4. Watch Your Tone
Unless you’re communicating with a friend, avoid being overly friendly or overly curt in your emails. Remember, sarcasm and dry humour often doesn’t translate well in print, so save your scathing wit for your next face-to-face meeting.

5. Keep It Simple
Emails were not designed for long, lyrical prose. Keep your sentences short, and use bullet points where necessary.

With that, I leave you with this nifty little infographic that you can print out and refer to each time you’re about to hit “Send.”

how-to-manage-email-overload-infographic

What are YOUR email pet peeves? Tell us in the Comments section below!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Tweet us a picture of you with your favourite beauty product and stand to win a $150 beauty prize! Click on the picture to get to our Twitter account!

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Career, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Vanessa Tai

Working With Friends – Vanessa Tai

Yesterday, I read an article in the newspapers about how it may not be a good idea to work with a friend. On the surface, it may seem like a fantastic idea – working alongside your BFF for eight (or more) hours a day – what could be better, right? However, according to the article, friends tend to have the same outlook as you so this might lead to a shortage of fresh ideas coming into the company. Another potential problem with working with friends is the unwillingness to question or criticise each other’s ideas.

I found it very relevant for us at Material World because after all, we Material Girls are friends who started this business venture together. (We didn’t start off as friends, though. We were colleagues first, then friends, and now we are business partners.) While the article did bring up some salient points, I think the four of us have found a way to make this partnership work without compromising on our friendship. Here are some of the methods, which hopefully you’ll find useful if you ever find yourself having to work alongside a friend!

1. Be Honest

As with all relationships, transparency really is key. You can’t have a thriving relationship if you’re not honest with what you’re really thinking about. We’ve had frank discussions about our strengths, our weaknesses and even supposedly touchy topics like our finances. And whenever we have brainstorm sessions, we’re not afraid to tell each other if an idea doesn’t work. Which brings me to my next point …

2. Grow A Thick Skin

For some reason, being criticised stings more when it comes from someone we’re close to. That’s because we value the person’s opinion way more than say, a random hater on the Internet. However, you’ll need to view things from a macro perspective; everything that’s being said is for the good of the company. So shrug off those hurt feelings and focus on how you can improve the quality of your work.

3. Communicate (A Lot)

"Anyones wants to go with me for the event?" (What a typical Material World text might look like)

“Anyone wants to go with me for the event?” (What a typical Material World text might look like)

The Material Girls have two chat groups on WhatsApp (don’t ask me why.) And not a day goes by without us updating the group chat about our daily on-goings, whether it’s a story we’re working on or an event we’re attending. We also have a compulsory weekly meeting and once a month, we spend an entire day working alongside each other. So because we’re constantly kept in the loop of each other’s lives and work progress, we are able to easily pick up the slack should one of us fall ill or go overseas.

4. Spend Time Away From Work

Work hard, play harder!

Work hard, play harder!

This is a very important point. Sometimes, if you spend too much time working with someone, you’ll just start to associate them with work, which is why it’s crucial to spend time with your friend/co-worker doing non-work-related stuff.We Material Girls often do things like boot camp or night treks together. The endorphins plus the great outdoors make for a fantastic stress-reliever, plus it serves as a reminder why we enjoy each other’s company so much.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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Coping Strategies for the 20-something Working Adult – Vanessa Tai

As working professionals, we are forced to grapple with stressful situations daily, but many a time, we feel like we haven’t quite shed our adolescent selves … the one that’s tempted to sweep everything off our desks and declare, “Screw this. I quit!” Sometimes, we may even look up in the middle of some menial task, and wonder to ourselves, “Is this all there is? Whatever happened to my life-changing, golly-gee-whiz-awesome career?” If you’ve ever felt forlorn about your job or career journey, you’ll know what I mean.

Back when my friends and I were still bright-eyed undergrads, we used to spend hours dreaming of our fabulous careers. One wanted to be a successful PR director, another wanted to be a war correspondent … and me? I fantasised of being an award-winning creative director (feel free to laugh.) However, as we all know, real life is rarely how we envision it to be. Over the five years that I have been working, I’ve gone through extreme career highs and lows, taking me to places and situations that I couldn’t even have dreamed up. And you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. All these experiences have taught me many important lessons such as humility and perseverance, traits that are relevant to both work and life.

The following situations are experiences most 20-somethings would be familiar with. At times where nothing seems to be going your way, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Others have gone before you and succeeded, and you’ll definitely ride through whatever crisis you’re experiencing right now.

1. Having your work thrown back at you

"Make changes AGAIN?!?!"

“Make changes AGAIN?!?!”

How to deal: Don’t take it personally. Yes, of course it sucks to have to re-do your work after slaving over it for hours, but this is to be expected, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry. But instead of grousing, make notes on the type of mistakes your boss calls you out on, and take care not to repeat them.

2. Dealing with difficult people

How to deal: Focus on the job at hand. Even if it seems like these people are out to get you, just remind yourself of the things that actually matter; for example, the fact that you truly enjoy your job scope. When you channel your energies into doing a good job, you won’t have time to worry about petty colleagues or cranky clients. However, if the situation starts getting out of hand, confide in your supervisor or a trusted colleague who will be able to help address the issue.

3. Coping with your friends’ success 

How to deal: Remind yourself, “I am not defined by my job.” With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, there are now multiple channels to feed our insecurities about our friends’ career success. I get it –  it’s hard to feel happy about your friend’s promotion when you’re still moping around the lower rungs of the career ladder. But there’s one thing you need to remember: there is more than one way to scale the proverbial ladder. It’s not always an upward climb. There are times where you may have to do a side-step or go a couple of steps backwards only to take a great leap forward. Just concentrate on doing a good job at whatever rank you’re in, and eventually your hard work will pay off.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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