I've been working with electronic messaging (email, etc.) in one form or another for over 30 years. Back in 1992, I (successfully) sold a server-software product that promised to help people deal with the "flood" of 40 emails a day! Much of my executive coaching business has revolved around helping professionals manage their email (many receive up to 400 a day).
I've had a front-row seat to the rise of email along the whole way. For many people, it's grown into a monstrous beast. A couple years ago, McKinsey & Company found that workers spend up to 28% of their day writing and reading emails. Inboxes fill up over lunch breaks. We're all guilty of being to quick to send to others whose email is just as out-of-control as ours.
I think that's at least half of the issue: who's creating the problem. I also think we can definitely find ways to address this together.
Continue Reading "Email is not the problem. Lack of agreement on how to use it is." »
This article points out a very important truth that seems to be slowly gaining recognition in the business world: resting is an important part of producing.
HBR uses the topic of late-night emails to dive into the issue of how we work when our work is always accessible. I remember professionals of my father's generation grumbling that work could reach them at home by phone -- and the issue has grown exponentially since then.
The real problem is not the means of communication, but how a lack of agreement on how to use them and when. As Maura Thomas insightfully points out in this article, after-hours emails (not to mention texts, calls, faxes, Facebook messages, etc.) can easily create a culture where everyone feels they're expected to be connected at all times.
More often than not, this is driven by leaders who feel that they have to do more to keep the company moving forward -- but by doing so in a way that involves their subordinates, they tend to create pressure to keep up.
Here's a key quote on this mentality:
The (often unconscious) belief that more work equals more success is difficult to overcome, but the truth is that this is neither beneficial nor sustainable.
The bottom line is that being "always on" never leaves you time "off," and that hurts everybody.
Click here for the article from HBR.
"Up All Night" by MisterGuy11 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via DeviantArt.
Why would this ever happen, since so many people seem to like Outlook better than Notes? Does the migration even matter?
Honestly, I don't think these switches matter nearly as much as many people think they do (Microsoft's drum-beating notwithstanding). Here's why: many companies have migrated to Outlook after their employees have screamed to kill Notes (or, more often, after they were bought by an Outlook company), and you know what happened?
Continue Reading "Moving from Outlook to Lotus Notes (or vice versa)? It might not actually matter, and here's why" »
In other words, you're using an outdated definition of what it means to be productive:
1. The process of producing more output with less input: "working harder."
2. The art of accomplishing more with less time and less energy, achieved by learning new ways of doing things.
Which one would you rather use?
Continue Reading "Why you don't have time to save time" »
After learning David Allen's Getting Things Done from Eric Mack for a year, I had a problem: on any given day, I had way more things marked as "due" than I could possibly get done. I dealt with it by taking all my incomplete items at the end of each day and changing the due date to the next day -- you can imagine how well that worked out.
...times 20, but better-defined
This continued until I realized something: I was putting due dates on a lot of things that weren't really due that day. This not only overloaded my to-do list, but gave me the extra mental stress of filtering my tasks, asking "Is this really due today?"
Here's how I solved this: by distinguishing between "due" and "like to do."
Continue Reading "GTD: How to prevent an overload of "due today"" »