Friday, September 26, 2008

Are you willing to die for your e-mail?

E-mail can be a deadly habit….

A few months ago, an executive proudly explained to me how he holds his Blackberry with his thumbs and forefingers at the top of the steering wheel so that he can effectively read and respond to e-mail messages while on the road… I told him he was playing a dangerous game.
Last week, The Dallas Morning News reported that a Dallas citizen videotaped a DART bus driver texting while operating a public transportation bus. Two weeks ago, 25 people were killed in a commuter train crash in California, in which investigators have confirmed that the MetroLink train's engineer was texting while on the job and apparently missed a warning light signaling another train on the same track. It cost him his life, not to mention ruining 100s of others.

E-mail is convenient. E-mail is timely. It can be an immediate. Staying connected can be fun.

It can also kill you - or someone else...

Consider this… A recent survey by AOL reported that approximately 50 percent of respondents to said they have checked their email while driving. This is up from last year, when 37 percent of respondents said they engaged in this activity. In addition, according to a survey by, answering text messages while driving is popular among individuals 18 to 24 years of age, with 48 percent texting while behind the wheel of car. In addition, 27 percent of drivers 25 to 34 years of age text while driving, and 19 percent of respondents who were 35 to 44 years of age admitted to texting while driving.

A new study done by the Transport Research Laboratory for the British Royal Automobile Club Foundation appears to confirm that texting behind the wheel can be more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol.

It used to be that people feared being on the road after midnight, because chances were that one out of every two drivers coming at them could be under the influence of alcohol. With these trends, it's not just about the wee hours anymore. If the AOL study is true, it could be that one out of every two drivers coming at you any time during the day could be texting while driving.
Researchers observing drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 found their reaction was slowed by 35 percent when they were writing or reading text messages. That's more than twice the slowed reaction time after drinking alcohol.

The British study also found texting drivers were less able to maintain safe distances from other cars and tended to drift out of their lanes.

Does this cause concern for anyone out there?!!

We are regularly putting ourselves — not to mention others — in harm’s way by checking our email when we need to be concentrating on something else.

Although some state legislators are starting to address this, with at least five states already prohibiting all drivers from using hand-held phones, and 24 more have considered similar legislation, let's just remember that you can't legislate common sense.

Because of the proliferation of email, don't let yourself get sucked into feeling compelled to keep up with electronic communication while performing other tasks, including driving.

Individuals, friends, relatives, parents, and employers can do more to prevent these senseless accidents and deaths while driving. What we really need to do is stop, think, and get control of ourselves, our loved ones and our co-workers. We need to stop putting our desire to stay connected and our obsession with technology above our basic need for safety.

The cost can be catastrophic. Resolve now to stop reading or tapping while driving, and to be adamant with others around you to do the same. No tolerance. It could be deadly, like it was for those 25 victims in California.

For the Transport Research Laboratory report, visit
For more information on FindLaw’s survey, visit
To read the complete AOL Study, visit
For the Dallas article, view

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reducing the Amount of Email You Receive - The Secret!

No, this is not rocket science. But one of the best kept secrets to reducing the amount of email you receive is...


E-mail begets e-mail. By reducing the number of e-mails you send daily, and by implementing some simple steps when sending e-mail, you will in return reduce the number of e-mails you receive.

There is no question that people who use e-mail more frequently in turn receive more e-mails in response.

Ask yourself, “Is this e-mail really necessary?” Consider that each e-mail you send to one recipient could create at least one return e-mail to you. For messages sent to groups, there is an obvious potential mutliplier effect. By envisioning the e-mail you send as a potential trigger for a return e-mail, you will help yourself receive less e-mail.

Sending less email implies doing more of something else...

Yes. Pick up the phone. Situations requiring true dialogue are best served with a phone call. Many times even a voice mail message can be better in advancing the conversation.
If you're overwhelmed with incoming email, try sending less, and calling more. Let us know how it works!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More on Daily Planning

If you read our last post, we're prescribing the re-invention of the concept of once a day daily planning. Why?Because too many emailers are allowing newly receive email messages to trump the plan they've already set for the day. Here's how it works:

Let’s assume that you’ll take the first half-hour of your morning to plan your schedule for the day and to figure out which tasks need your attention. In the planning process, you need to assess e-mail delivered tasks the same way you prioritize other work-related tasks such as return phone calls, meetings, and projects. Once daily, gather and assess ALL your work priorities, and make decisions about how and when you can best use your time. This is when you access your diary system, find the appropriate messages in your action folders, plan meetings, prioritize tasks and phone calls, and set the appropriate schedule that will enable great results for the day.

This can give you the "strength" to look away from those new email messages which are tugging at you, threatening to pull you from what is truly important. Just look at that daily plan, and ask yourself, is this more important than what I've already decided? Chances are, it won't be. Diversion diverted!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Email has obliterated people's daily planning efforts. How 'bout you?

Toxic e-mail habits have diffused the importance of daily planning, a key component of time management. People allow the delivery of new messages to continually interrupt and impose on their daily plan. Your know what we're talking about... You start by planning your day, then an email message arrives. Before you know it, you're working on THAT rather than the stuff you decided was most important when you first started your day.

Wanna take control. Bring back once a day, daily planning! Prioritizing your tasks each day gives you a daily roadmap that will help you resist the tempting interruptions brought by new e-mail.

Establish a consistent time each day to plan your work. Some people prefer first thing in the morning, others find it makes more sense to do this at the end of the day. This is the time to plan all of your daily activities, including phone calls, projects, meetings, and tasks delivered by e-mail. Open your action folders and decide which of those tasks you will choose to work on during the day.

Sure, you may have one or two items that trump your work plan. Urgencies happen. But not to the extent that email interrupts you consistently throughout the day...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Case for Emptying Your Inbox - EVERY time!

Leaving e-mail messages you have already read in your inbox is just as counter-productive as leaving old mail in the box at the end of your driveway. Yet people routinely leave received items in their inboxes, even after they have been read. This transforms the inbox into one enormous pending file. Worse, it is a very disorganized pending file. If you have 200 items in your inbox, it's like having 200 pieces of paper, on your desk, in NO organized fashion.

Get it outa there!

By placing items requiring your attention in a folder, you will enable yourself to properly triage your work. (See our last post on this...) By setting up Action Folders, you can take control of your inbox rather than it controlling you. See all of our March 2008 posts for the elements of the 12 Step Program.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Difference between "Sorting" and "Working" e-mail

Too many people confuse sorting e-mails and handling e-mails as one task. They are not. To be most effective at managing your inbox, it is important to understand and embrace the distinction between the two. Sorting denotes viewing, grouping, moving, and assessing priorities, while handling means actually working within the details of the e-mail. You need to commit to sort the work delivered by e-mail, and then handle it in the priority that it deserves. Each time you go into your inbox, it should be with the intention to sort your mail, not handle it.

Think of it like an emergency room nurse. The nurse “triages” patients based on their priority, not based on when they arrived or how quickly they can be served. Instead, patients are triaged according to priority. As an example, a person with a head injury will be seen immediately, while someone with a broken finger may wait for hours. This is the way we need to approach our incoming e-mail in order to manage it expertly, every day.

Just remember, E-mail itself is not a task. It delivers tasks. When you shift your thinking from, “I’ve got to do e-mail,” to “I’ve got work to do” (regardless of whether it was delivered by e-mail or a visit by the boss), you are on the road to better and faster results.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Are you "married to your office?"

Technology is great. There have been so many advancements that make things so efficient, effective, and yes, inexpensive. I still think that the advent of the e-mail is one of the best technological inventions of the 20th century.

Unfortunately, anything done to excess can be a liability. The June AOL e-mail addiction survey reported that 30% of the mobile users said that since getting a mobile device with e-mail capabilities, they feel "married to the office." I'm sure this does a lot for stress relief.

The interesting thing is that there is a lot of assuming going on about all this. While there may be some idiots, er, I mean executives who do expect that their employees are connected 24/7 once they are given a mobile e-mail device. They are in the minority. I have talked to one too many employees who have assumed, without asking, that they are expected to be connected 24/7. I was actually asked by a CEO to emphasize during my "Tame the E-mail Tiger" program that he expected blackberries to be used more efficiently, for example, while waiting for an appointment, rather than to have it ringing on the bed stand at 2:00 a.m. He felt that his employees didn't believe him. So, who was assuming what?

I am a believer that balance creates energy. And without turning those dang things off, you could be married to the wrong thing.