5 Email Mistakes You Need to Avoid

by Gabe Arnold

Every day I send and receive around 500 emails. When email volumes get to that level you have to start learning faster ways to process the information and deal with the noise. Just the other day I met with my friend Reno to review his marketing campaign and he told me that I needed to write a post or share a webinar about how to manage email. So here you go Reno – a post. Maybe we’ll do the webinar next!

I am going to share with you the mistakes that you need to avoid when it comes to email management. I am also going to let you know that Gmail and Google Apps (the professional version of Gmail) are really the only two solutions you should consider. That may sound biased, and yes it is. Everything else fails miserably when it comes to email management. If you are in another email platform then you should start migrating to Google Apps and make your life simpler.

Mistake #1: Having a Short Password

It is NOT ACCEPTABLE (yes I am shouting!) to have a password that is shorter than 12 characters long for your email. If you have a short password then your odds of being hacked are much higher. When you get hacked your entire address book will most likely get a spamming or phishing email and your inbox will be the one spreading the virus!

Do yourself a favor and make a longer password. Most modern email platforms support spaces in their passwords. Did you know that? Here’s a super simple password tip to get you started in the right direction:

  1. Think of your favorite movie and your favorite scene
  2. Let’s pretend the movie is Titanic and you love when Rose stands up and spreads her arms
  3. Make your password “rose pretends to fly”

That’s easy to remember and it’s 20 characters long. See how easy that was? Now – go update your passwords!

Don’t forget to update your passwords every 3-6 months. Leaving a password stagnant for over 6 months just means that your odds of being hacked are going up. Find a new favorite movie and update that password!

Mistake #2: Sharing an Email Account

Sharing an email address with someone is like sharing their toothbrush with them. Yes, I really feel like it’s that disgusting when you can easily avoid this mistake.

Why is this such a bad idea?

  1. Because the other user could change the password and not tell you
  2. Because they might trash a message you wanted to read
  3. Because they can impersonate you or you can impersonate them
  4. Should I keep going?

There are modern ways to handle two people having to receive an email message. Here are two solutions:

  1. You can create a forwarding rule in Gmail with a filter
  2. You can create a Group in Google Apps and send the messages to multiple recipients

Use [email protected] or [email protected] as a group list and send it to yourself and your assistant or sales person. Think about the best way to route that message so that everyone who needs to know gets the message.

Mistake #3: Failure to Respond

One of the things that I see people do is failing to respond to a message when they receive it. They mark it as unread or put it in a folder to reply later. I think this is a giant waste of time and I get a lot of email every day. Try this approach on for size:

  • Only open your inbox when you have time to respond
  • When you read a message either
    1. Respond right then or
    2. Archive the message and forget it
  • Don’t mark as unread thinking you’ll have more time later

Think about the time it takes to open an email, read it, and then respond. That path is very efficient.

Now think about opening the email, reading it, and then marking it as unread. During the time you’re not responding that email probably sits in the back of your mind and you waste some energy or thought on it. Then when you are ready to respond – you have to re-read the message in order to respond, and you reply then. That seems like a terrible way to spend your time if you ask me.

So instead of procrastinating – make a habit of archiving that message immediately or replying immediately. Remember that you should only open your email inbox when you intend on taking action and replying.

Give it a try! I think you’ll see that when you commit to replying right away you’ll face less clutter and feel more at ease. I’d also venture to say that very few people get 500 emails per day, so this goal is achievable if it’s something that I can do.

Mistake #4: Not Using Search Hacks

Gmail and Google Apps come with so many powerful search tools these days – but they aren’t clearly displayed yet for some reason. Here are some power user searches that can help you move more quickly.

In the search bar enter to:[email protected] and you’ll get all the results sent to that email.


You can also use from:[email protected] and you’ll get everything from me 🙂

If you’re using the new segmented inbox this search string will return everything that is unread in the primary inbox:

in:inbox -category:(updates OR promotions OR social OR forums) is:unread

Or you can search for everything read in the primary tab:

in:inbox -category:(updates OR promotions OR social OR forums) is:read

That lets you select and archive messages or see everything that you’ve already read. Another great search is:

from:[email protected] is:unread

You can also just spell out the person’s name. It doesn’t have to be an email address. I like to use this trick for the bloggers I follow. I tend to read their emails in batches, not as they come in. I read Neil Patel’s emails this way:


You should also click the advanced search button: email

Here you can select many different search options:


Mistake #5: Using a Desktop Mail Client

As you can see from my examples above – I only use the web interface of Gmail and Google Apps. On my iPhone and iPad I use the Gmail App. Using a desktop client or native phone mail app really limits your searching ability and can cause other problems as well.

If you’re not used to using the web interface then I would encourage you to explore it and try it out for a few minutes each day. Take time to adjust your behavior and start to take advantage of the web interface. It is far superior to any desktop mail you’ll find.

In the web interface you can take advantage of awesome little tools like:

  1. Keyboard shortcuts
  2. Powerful search
  3. Filtering
  4. Gmail Labs (add on scripts)
  5. Google Chat / Hangouts
  6. And so much more!

So if you’re still stuck on the desktop – it’s time to take the leap to the web!

Wrap Up:

What do you think? Are there other mistakes that people make in email? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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