The War on Email

Maybe “I can has cheezburger” isn’t for work.

Everyone has, at some point received unwanted email, I don’t mean spam, I mean being included in the cc of an email you don’t want to deal with, or receiving those chain letters, or the latest internet meme.

The nice people at have created a handy decision tree in an appealing infographic format to help you answer the question “Should I send this email?” which includes a nod to one of the most famous internet paradoxes – millions of people do fantastic work and post it online, but it’s pictures of cats that get sent and viewed millions of times.

I like the idea, and I’ve written before about efforts to manage or limit email. But while it’s true that email can be a drain on our time it remains a great tool for many tasks. It also has the advantage of being much less disruptive than phone calls or visits. Yeah, it’s sad, I like email.

But that comes with a couple of provisos. Emails need to be clearly written, sent to the right people, work-related. That work-related means that the email should contain information I need to do my job, or something I need to act on.

I also like having conversations with my colleagues, and I’ve noticed that “coffee meetings” can be very effective – they rarely last more than 30 minutes and so people tend to stick to the point. Plus at our office they’re in an open setting so it’s easy to move away when the discussion is done, rather than be stuck in a meeting room because it’s “booked for the hour”.

Anyway given that people work in different ways I created my own infographic “Should you send me an email?”

(Thanks to land of web for the twitter coffee cup)

New Years Resolutions

Welcome to 2012

I know we’re halfway through January but I’ve had a slow start to the year with a long break visiting family and friends on the other side of the world.

So here I am on my first post of the year, and I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. There was a flurry of posts on this subject from Christmas until about 5 January including a timely reminder from HBR that some resolutions might be about stopping ineffective behaviour at work, and the advertising to join a gym/lose weight/stop smoking and generally improve your life has escalated. But it was a quiet comment from a colleague I respect that inspired me to write this.

“I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions,” she said “you can decide any day of the year to make a change in your life”.

I don’t do resolutions either, but there is something healthy about taking some time to look back at what you’ve achieved, and what you’d like to improve and the end of year seems a natural moment to do that. However natural it is to translate that into resolutions it seems we’re not good at keeping them.

Around half of those who set resolutions succeed in keeping them occasionally, only 8% always keep them, compared with 24% who never keep them according to Daily Infographic.

So what goes wrong? Well, we’re too ambitious, making resolutions that are “significantly unrealistic”, according to Psychology Today. We’ll also think that solving one issue – reducing debt or exercising more – will fix our whole life and then then become discouraged when that turns out not to be the case.

There is plenty of advice all over the internet on how to improve your chances of keeping your resolutions the most common items are; focus on one goal, make it specific, make it measurable, take it in small steps, celebrate success – and laugh at failure.

Psychology Today’s list also reflects the advice of my wise colleague “Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day”


Image New Year Mosaic 2008 /maplemama/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0