Thursday, February 25, 2010

Should we stop Email ?

In some ways, advance high-tech tools and software have evolved in a way that almost “kill us” or place the skilled working staff in a bind. Just look at the email conundrum. From the moment you reach office early in the morning, it seems the inbox is calling your name. And if you’re like most of us, you will reply the mails pretty quickly. It’s literally painful or you just feel uneasy not to download your email the moment you arrive at your desk in the morning. But once you’ve processed 50 to 100 emails, you probably have ruined your brain alertness or activity for higher level tasks that are going to create more productivity and output value.

A recent study done for HP found that “infomania” — a term connected with addiction to email and texting — could lower your IQ by twice as much as smoking. Moreover, email can raise the levels of adrenaline in your brain by constantly introducing new stimuli into your day. When those levels get too high, complex thinking may be more difficult, making it difficult for you to make decisions and solve problems — which is the main roles for people like us, managers.

Likely our brain’s capacity for decision-making evolved at a time when you had lesser stress or less to think about. Therefore, we may need to rethink and how to take control of our daily life with the potential of having our work activity flooded with more emails than required and not forgetting the nuisance of receiving unwanted spams, adverts, junk mails,etc. We need to :

Control our Inbox -

Try not to start your day downloading new mail automatically or, at the very least, turn off any alert system. Preferably, set a time to check for messages manually — preferably later in the day, after you’ve used your brainpower for more important stuff and project issues,etc.

Emails should be short, concise, and used only when a conversation is not an option. The easier communication is to digest, the more likely it is that the messages will be delivered effectively.

Some colleagues seem unable to help themselves. They send too many long emails; they gossip or forward jokes. Get them to divert their personal chatter online by allowing them to use social media at work (even if it’s just at set times of the day). Or the company has to step in and do something about access to external emails or limit the staff from engaging in unproductive stuff. I educate everyone who I communicate with and as a result, the emails I do receive are pertinent to me. I restructure those emails, copy them into ongoing documents, and try to keep my inbox low, create rules to purge those unwanted spams,etc,,

If you’re reaching a breaking point and if you need to,simply wipe your inbox to start afresh, but before you do it, scan through and make sure important ones are archive for action later. It seems drastic, but it can work. Send a message to all contacts letting them know what you’re planning. Try planning a new regime of folders and information-sharing disciplines

Relook at your prioritizing mails -

To help you prioritize, start by setting clear goals. Prioritizing is one of the brain’s most energy-hungry processes. That means it’s best done when your mind is fresh and well rested. Allocate time to order your thoughts —it won’t break the back of the work you need to cover.

Blindside the data -

Break down complex information into sub-groups. Once you’ve determined a goal, you can “chunk” your work into groups to achieve it. You can also do this with your to-do lists.

People are generally very bad at estimating when they’ll finish their own work, but good at guessing for others. So gauge your timing by using someone else’s experience. You’ll be less stressed if you’re realistic about your workload.

Try handle less -

To handle less, we should delegate more. Too many senior staff can’t resist the temptation personally to get involved in everything that’s affecting his department or section. But effective delegation means limiting the amount of information you have to process, as well as empowering those around you. Make use of your intelligent staff around you and get briefing and updates periodically.

Switch off -

Many managers feel they can’t shut off. In most cases, it just erodes your focus. You need time to synthesize information and generate real intelligence. That takes discipline, of course, but it’s useful to stop thinking when you are stuck on a project so your brain can recover. You do need to switch off and rebalance your brain chemistry if you’re going to come up with new ideas or solutions

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