One reason programmers dislike meetings so much is that they’re on a different type of schedule from other people. Meetings cost them more.
via If I Didn’t Care
Professor Perlow replicated the pilot program several times at the Boston Consulting Group and has now expanded it to 14 countries with more than 1,000 teams. She stressed, however, that it was not enough to take the time off. Employees also need the element of group discussion to “collectively rethink how to do work.”
Yes, we should be having this discussion–outside of the crying about it in our collective beers that is already happening.
It seems like very few people really love email. After all, if you use email in your professional life, you probably spend a good portion of your working day dealing with it. It’s been a few years since I was getting inundated with so many emails that I had to make changes to the way I dealt with them. The changes I made to my email management were a success. If you are having trouble with email, I encourage you to read that post.
Also in that vein, Chris Anderson has published an Email Charter. It consists of “10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral”. Are these 10 rules new, or a real breakthrough? No. However, if we could just get most people follow them, our email lives would be much easier. I’m going to spread the word, I’m even thinking of putting a link to the site in my (nonexistent) signature.
By the way, David Pogue has put forth a few additional rules of his own:
11. Don’t Use Mailbocks. You might think that you’re clever by signing up for one of those anti-spam services that require e-mail senders to take a test on a Web page, proving that we’re human. But you have a lot of nerve sending me an e-mail question — and then blocking my reply. I don’t have time to take your little humanity test. The worst part: I don’t discover that you’re blocking my reply until AFTER I’ve gone to the trouble of writing it.
12. Use BCC for Your E-mail Blasts. When you send out jokes or those insipid ‘heartwarming’ anecdotes, don’t just put everyone you know into the To: line. Instead, put all your addressees into the BCC (blind carbon copy) line. We’ll still get your e-mail blast, but we won’t see each others’ e-mail addresses. You’re preserving our privacy and saving us the scrolling through six inches of address information.
13. Clean Up Your Forwards. On the same topic (jokes and insipid tales): before you pass them on, clean up those carets (>>>>>>) that have accumulated from all the forwarding. They make the things impossible to read. (Paste the message into Word; use Find and Replace to search for the “>” character and replace it with nothing.)
14. Omit the Legal Vomit. I roll my eyes at the nine-sentence legal disclaimer that some companies insist on stamping at the bottom of every single message. I’ve got news for you: that confidentiality disclaimer has never wound up protecting a company from whatever it’s supposed to protect them from. When your actual e-mail message is only a fraction as long as your legal disclaimer, you look like an idiot.
15. Intersperse Your Replies. If you’re replying to a message that had a lot of different statements or questions, consider clicking after each response-requiring sentence, hitting Return, and typing your answer there. The result looks like a conversation, and makes it clear what you’re referring to. (But if you’re supplying only one response, put it up top so we don’t have to scroll down.)
P.S. I’m really glad I’m not the only one that uses “EOM“.
Jason Fried hits the nail on the head regarding the current state of office productivity in this TED Talk (embedded below). Namely, interruptions are shredding our work days up into tiny 10 or 15 or 30 minute increments during which we are expected to get meaningful work done. Obviously, this is far from ideal. Towards the end of the talk, he offers some recommendations–my favorite being the suggestion of canceling the next meeting on your calendar.
Also, there’s an interview with Jason on the Big Think site that touches on this subject, among other things.
I have this great, old rotary phone. Yes, it still works, and yes, I still use it. It rings with a warm tone that the iPhone’s “old phone” ringtone does a really poor job of mimicking. It sits next to the couch and rarely moves. Although, it does have a 25 foot cord, so it can be dragged about the apartment without too much effort. But, it normally stays in place because it has a specific purpose. It is used for conversations about nothing in particular with people I really care about. I generally reserve those sorts of conversations for face-to-face meetings. But, that’s not always possible.
These sorts of conversations are somewhat rare these days, and apparently not just for me. The Times has found a few people that seem to really hate the using the phone, and for good reason. A lot of us spend (or spent) a good portion of our working days cradling a handset–and have the lingering neck pain to prove it. The thought of yapping on the phone after hours just isn’t all that appealing. I’ll also be the first person to defend other sorts of messaging. Email and text messages can be way less intrusive and more to the point than a phone call. What if you have no “point” though?
A conversation with no point is often referred to as “catching up”. While this may be a thorn in the side of productivity, it’s not such a bad way to stay connected with people you want to stay connected to. Sure, there’s Facebook and the like that threaten to make us all a little bit too connected. But, a wall post here and there really isn’t the same as hearing somebody’s voice, is it?