In the writing skills course that we teach at Creative Communication Network, entitled Write Your Way to Success, we discuss how to handle e-Mails.
Most of our participants claim they write e-Mails as more than 85% of the type of writing they do on the job.
Obviously, writing e-Mails is often responding to other e-Mails.
And, the question is, do you control e-Mail, or does e-Mail control you?
Do you remember the Southwest Airlines commercials a few years ago, where a woman dropped a cake because she heard a “bing” on her computer, announcing an e-Mail? Or the one where the guy jumped over a cube wall to get to his e-Mail? They were exaggerated events, but not too far from reality.
You likely remember the synopsis of the book that I presented at our First Friday Book Synopsis entitled The Tyranny of e-Mail by John Freeman (Scribner, 2009). In that book, he presented a strong set of hints for writing and reading e-Mails, including scheduling a time to read e-Mails so that you concentrate on what you read and what you write, and so that you control e-Mail, instead of it controlling you. If you missed the original presentation, you can find it on 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
I thought this piece published on February 21, 2012 in the Harvard Business Review blog by Amy Gallo, entitled “Stop Email Overload,” was also provacative in the same sense. Click here to read the entire article.
Think about some of these principles. How much more productive would you be if you dictated when and how you went through your e-Mail? What if you decided how e-Mail fit into your day instead of jumping to check it everytime your computer beeped to tell you something new has arrived?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
I thought the article by Jonah Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why You Didn’t Hit Reply: Online, Friends Still Get Premium Treatment” (December 10-11, 2011, p. C32) was very interesting. You can read the entire article by clicking here.
He says, “an easy way to see how you feel about a person: How long does it take you to return their email?”
In the article, he cites a new study from Northwestern University researchers that found we exchange the highest volume of e-Mail with those whom we know the least. They are people who you would not talk with on the phone, or stop to exchange ideas on the street.
Yet, the volume of e-Mail, however, says nothing about our response patterns. People reply to their close friends within seven hours. Professional contacts average nearly 11 hours. But, people whom we don’t know jumped to 50 hours. “In other words, there’s a surprising easy way to figure out how you feel about someone – just count the hours before you hit the ‘reply’ button.”
He goes on to say, “this study is a reminder that even in a world transformed by digital devices, the most important things remain constant. Although we can interact with anyone, we still respond most quickly to our closest friends. We now know many more people, but we haven’t forgotten which members of our circle really matter.”
Do you think this is true in your own case? Do you have a clearly identifiable response pattern for your e-Mail? If so, what kind of response patterns do you have?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
Since you are taking a break from your e-mail right now to read this post, I thought you might be interested in a new book by John Freeman entitled The Tyranny of e-Mail (Scribner, 2009). My plans are to feature this book at our January First Friday Book Synopsis.
The premise of this book is that unlike the phrase that rings for every AOL user, “you’ve got mail, ” e-Mail actually has you. Freeman explains that contrary to popular belief, e-Mail has not brought us closer together. Recipients misread and misunderstand large numbers of e-Mail.
In his book, Freeman suggests that e-Mail is at fault for a number of maladies, including difficulty concentrating, trouble maintaining depth in relationships with friends and loved ones, problems feeling rushed, and several others.
I think that his suggestion not to quit is a wise one. Rather, learn to manage e-Mail so that it does not manage you. Send fewer of them. Reply only when you feel that you have to. Check them on your terms and schedule. Don’t visit your box excessively during the day.
I look forward to delivering a synopsis of this provacative book in January at our Dallas-based program. Until then, let’s talk about what you think!