Posts Tagged ‘email’

Work offline, get stuff done

Friday, December 12th, 2008

We live in distracting times, where any task can easily get derailed.

We surf the net, recheck pages, answer emails, juggle cell phone calls…and then there is the real world.

Today, I believe our greatest productivity challenge comes from these distractions.

There’s one distraction you can get rid of: Incoming information.

When I need to work on a task, say writing this blog post or creating a marketing plan, I turn off incoming email (work offline) and close my web browsers. My phone is set to silent. When the task is over, I turn everything back on and retrieve my emails.

This process works.

Many of you say, “I don’t need to turn off the distractions, just ignore them.” But you can’t. The Yahoo home page is too tempting to refresh (stocks, scores, news). You cannot ignore that little envelope that says, “you’ve got mail.” You can’t let a ringing cell phone float into email. You can’t. That’s why you need to turn it all off.

Here’s a side benefit to sole-tasking: You decrease stress in your work life. In 2006, I co-authored a study with Heartmath that measured the relationship between being constantly interrupted and work place depression. It is an eye opener. Check out the study results to see if you have NEDS.
Study on New Economy Depression Syndrome

Don’t email your people while they are on vacation!

Monday, June 9th, 2008

When one of your biz partners (employee, vendor, coworker) is on his or her annual summer vacation – do them a favor and leave them alone!

When I worked at Yahoo, I put my employee’s vacation days into my calendar to remind me to leave them off threads or BCC/CCs. When there was an email that they would eventually need to see or be copied on (when they got back), I would part it in the draft folder, then send all of them the day they returned.

The research I conducted for my Email Etiquette training program indicates that a person would rather get twenty emails first thing on Monday, coming back from time off, than twenty emails spread out over their vacation.

Why? When you send emails to people on vacation, they feel the need to check their email more often, respond to you and get engaged again with work. This destroys the healing process of time off and is quite inconsiderate on your part.

Great managers and business partners let their people take real time off. No chatter, CYA-FYI junk, just pure time off. After all, you wouldn’t call his or her cell phone twenty times while they were on vacation!

Check out more ideas on better email behavior at: Email A to Z

Empty your inbox

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

A few months ago, I was interviewing Raytheon’s CEO Bill Swanson for my new book.

Along the way, he shared a one of his habits with me that blew my mind: He empties his Inbox every day. No email goes unanswered. Moreover, he’s made himself available to most employees that need to voice concern or make suggestions. That is an impressive feat, I don’t know if I’ve ever emptied my email Inbox completely.

The reason he does that is because he considers it a part of professionalism and accountability. He’s probably right. By letting emails stack up, we prioritize some messages over others and often ignore some completely. If we commit ourselves to an empty Inbox, we may also recover our weekends as well as control over our email life. You can imagine that Bill gives tough love feedback to repeat email offenders that fill his Inbox will unnecessary information. If you adopt this policy, you may have to use Bill Jensen’s CLEAR system (read my post about it).

I’m going to attempt an empty Inbox for the next business week, which of course means that first I need to plow through about three dozen unanswered emails!

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