6 Tips For Getting Through Email Fast

September 16, 2007

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1. Limit the number of times you “do” email. Create a processing schedule and stick to it. Two or three times per day is sufficient for most people. Trying to reactively pick off messages as they arrive is a surefire way to waste time.

Instead, take a more proactive approach by only “doing” email during a few predetermined times each day. Keeping your email application closed when not in use is another great way to help break the habit of checking too often.

2. Be an email “processor”, rather than an email “checker!” What’s the difference? Checkers constantly interrupt themselves, looking for what’s new or interesting. This wastes time because email checkers tend to save most of their messages for latter. These “checked-but-left” messages have to be reread again, and again, and just when you thought I couldn’t get another, “again” in there … again.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Only open your inbox when you’re ready to process each message. So what’s processing? Processing is reading each message with the goal of identifying what your going to do with it (file it, respond, trash it, etc.) and then moving it right away. Read more

Why Meetings in the Hall are a Bad Idea.

September 11, 2007

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The hall is a poor choice for impromptu meetings because neither party is prepared to capture important information.

Have you ever noticed how much work we try to get done, “by the way?”

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve had way too much coffee and your bladder is about to explode. On your way to the facilities, you bump into “Colleague Bob”.

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How to Get a Faster Response to Your E-mail

September 6, 2007

This is an interesting article that lists a few things you can do to help ensure a quicker email response. The author make a great point that sometimes slow response times are due to the recipient’s pure ineptitude. But outside of that, he focuses on the sender’s role in trying to make it as easy as possible to facilitate a quick response.


I especially agree with point number 4: If the message is getting too long, and/or it’s a huge discussion with many parties chiming in with lots of back and forth - email is probably no longer the appropriate communication tool. It may be time to make a call, or even schedule a meeting (not that I’m huge fan of meetings either, see meetings suck!) But somtimes meetings are the appropriate answer.

4. Keep the message short. Again, remember the two-minute rule. If it takes longer than two minutes for the recipient to read your message, it will likely get set aside. In fact, they may never get back to it! So, keep it short. I like the advice some people are now giving: keep your message to five sentences or less. If it takes more than this, you should seriously consider another method of communication (e.g. a phone call, meeting, formal report, etc.)

Read the whole article Here

The Hamburger Method of Constructive Criticism

September 5, 2007

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It’s funny what things stick with you in life. Back when I was in college, one of my professors somehow got onto the subject of constructive criticism and decided to teach the class the method he uses for offering “critical” advice to people.


It’s called the hamburger method, and here’s how it works:

When offering a critique, you begin with a constructive compliment on something the person does well (Otherwise known as the fluffy bun part). You then get to the meat of the matter, which of course is the constructive criticism part. Finally, you end with another constructive compliment (i.e. the other half of the fluffy bun).

Basically, you’re sandwiching the constructive criticism between two constructive compliments. In my experience, it’s been an extremely effective technique, largely due to its disarming effective. It helps people let down their guard, and receive the criticism without being as defensive.

Here’s an example:

“Hey Defensive Dave, I noticed you went out of your way to submit your expense report on time every month for the last three months – that’s great! I do, however, think it’s a bad idea to call Jane in accounting an “ignorant slut”. She may not be familiar with that old 1970’s Saturday Night Live Television skit and may be offended by your comment. But overall, your interaction with the team has been great – thanks for making the effort.”

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No More Bobblehead Prioritizing!

September 3, 2007

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This one time … no, not at band camp. I worked with a colleague who was so notorious for dropping the ball on follow-up, that it actually become an inside joke between us.

Here’s how it would typically play out. We’d be at a business lunch, and we’d get to the “down to business” part.

We’d discus a topic, and it would come time to assign tasks. Whenever “Forgetful Fred” was assigned a task, without fail, he would always shake his head in agreement, but NEVER WROTE IT DOWN.

Of course, the rest of my colleagues and I eventually caught on that if we didn’t see Forgetful Fred “capture” the task by writing it down, there was a good chance it wasn’t ever going to get done.

I call this bobblehead prioritization. Because whenever I see someone (or catch myself) get assigned a tasks, shake in agreement, but not write it down … it seems just as silly as watching a bobblehead shake its head around. It’s actually just as productive too.

So how do you keep from bobblehead prioritizing?

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