10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral

From Chris Anderson – curator of TED.com

1. Respect Recipients’ Time
This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender, the onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email will take to process. Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.
2. Short or Slow is not Rude
Let’s mutually agree to cut each other some slack. Given the email load we’re all facing, it’s OK if replies take a while coming and if they don’t give detailed responses to all your questions. No one wants to come over as brusque, so please don’t take it personally. We just want our lives back!
3. Celebrate Clarity
Start with a subject line that clearly labels the topic, and maybe includes a status category [Info], [Action], [Time Sens] [Low Priority]. Use crisp, muddle-free sentences. If the email has to be longer than five sentences, make sure the first provides the basic reason for writing. Avoid strange fonts and colors.
4. Quash Open-Ended Questions
It is asking a lot to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of turgid text followed by “Thoughts?”. Even well-intended-but-open questions like “How can I help?” may not be that helpful. Email generosity requires simplifying, easy-to-answer questions. “Can I help best by a) calling b) visiting or c) staying right out of it?!”
5. Slash Surplus cc’s
cc’s are like mating bunnies. For every recipient you add, you are dramatically multiplying total response time. Not to be done lightly! When there are multiple recipients, please don’t default to ‘Reply All’. Maybe you only need to cc a couple of people on the original thread. Or none.
6. Tighten the Thread
Some emails depend for their meaning on context. Which means it’s usually right to include the thread being responded to. But it’s rare that a thread should extend to more than 3 emails. Before sending, cut what’s not relevant. Or consider making a phone call instead.
7. Attack Attachments
Don’t use graphics files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments. Time is wasted trying to see if there’s something to open. Even worse is sending text as an attachment when it could have been included in the body of the email.
8. Give these Gifts: EOM NNTR
If your email message can be expressed in half a dozen words, just put it in the subject line, followed by EOM (= End of Message). This saves the recipient having to actually open the message. Ending a note with “No need to respond” or NNTR, is a wonderful act of generosity. Many acronyms confuse as much as help, but these two are golden and deserve wide adoption.
9. Cut Contentless Responses
You don’t need to reply to every email, especially not those that are themselves clear responses. An email saying “Thanks for your note. I’m in.” does not need you to reply “Great.” That just cost someone another 30 seconds.
10. Disconnect!
If we all agreed to spend less time doing email, we’d all get less email! Consider calendaring half-days at work where you can’t go online. Or a commitment to email-free weekends. Or an ‘auto-response’ that references this charter. And don’t forget to smell the roses.

2019 Things I Learned

Every year for the past… ummm… wow, it’s been a lot of years. The first of those lists was from 2014 and it’s still the last post on my previous blog site.  The lists started because the radio program that I listen to most mornings ends their daily broadcast with “what we learned”. They go around the room to each of the hosts and get a funny remark/synopsis of the day’s funny happenings.  Mine sort of started off that way. Then, they got more personal and meaningful.  Here’s my list for 2019. Many of these only have meaning to me. Some have been redacted because they were too personal or could expose me to issues that I’d rather not face in public yet… or ever.

You may notice a “Work Week” row in there, too. Each week, on Friday, I write down a few things that I accomplished at work that week. Then, when it comes to annual review time, I have 45 or so entries to look at instead of combing through a year’s worth of emails trying to figure out what the fuck I actually accomplished. It works great. And, if you have a weekly catch-up with your boss, it’s great to bring up to him/her during that call. Your weekly catch-up becomes 30 minutes of you bragging about what you accomplished.

This year, in addition to recording a “thing I learned” each day, I also added three positive things/thoughts to my daily recordings.  This was something that I adopted from my friend Catrina. Not sure exactly how it came about or how she uses it, I just know that she was my inspiration (as she often is). I may post that list too. I’ll have to see how much of it is too personal to share when I review it.

More after the break…

Continue reading

Occupant Activity :: Not Even Considered

I’ve read a few articles lately about the amount and types of data that will be generated by Autonomous Vehicles (AVs). Every single article talks about the data that will be generated by the vehicle itself. I’ve yet to see anyone discussing the real value generated by these AVs. To wit; what are the people in the vehicle doing while they’re being transported from point A to point B?  Here’s yet another recent example…

Automakers have a choice: Become data companies or become irrelevant

While I don’t disagree with the headline, I do believe that of the various revenue generating data streams, the one that will require constant evaluation and examination is the Occupant Activity (OA) stream.

Continue reading

Pete’s Picks 2019-05-03


Pete’s Picks 2019-05-03

NYTimes: Microbots Robots Silicon
IT Managers… who owns what?
Augmented Reality will mean dystopia
VR Subscription for business
On living longer
Social Security taxable income max
Working with APIs without code
Effective/quick decision making
Also on living longer
30MPH E-Bike > E-scooter?
Drug trials need continuous monitoring
Go order from Amazon app
Smart prototypes for connected/autonomous cars
Neuromorphic computing breakthrough
Use AI to record your life story? YAWN
Pirated End Game broadcast on tv
Recent readings roudnup
Which workout type you choose says something about something
Hula-Hoop trick
AWS Wins! …?
I’m average!
TED talk: agnoring obvious problems
TED Talk: Three Ideas/Three Contridictions

Pete’s Picks 2019-05-01


Ford Grocery Cart
Ford Rolling Bed
Insomnia linked to…
Another database found open to public
O’Reilly AI Conference
The future of medicine could be your own body
Reality? Who needs that? We all do!
Downtime… How to talk to business leaders
Hawking theory takes a blow
Americans miserable in record economy
Women outlive men because…
Learning tactical driving
I have a crush on you, too
Micro-mobility needs dedicated travel space
Facebook F8 short video

Creating better habits

Today’s readings led me down a slightly different rabbit hole. I’ve found 2 new feeds to which I’m now subscribed and a new (to me) Ted-like YouTube feed that I’ll try to follow – though, admittedly, I prefer to read.

In light of this Lifehacker article about the Pomodoro Technique, I’ve found a new YouTube channel to follow. I’m going to give the Pomodoro Technique a try this week as part of an attempt to create good habits consciously. Oh, yeah… check out this on that topic.

To get me started, I’ve downloaded the Android App, PomLife Lite.

I really like the idea behind the Pomodoro Technique and how it can be applied to my work environment. My department does agile programming and many of the projects require us to become intimately familiar with large projects in short order. A targeted, focused approach such as that advocated by Pomodoro is perfect for our department. Further, I’ve been wanting to try a modified version of the scrum technique in my programming efforts and this fits well with what I have in mind.

I’ll keep notes as to my thoughts on the Pomodoro technique and post them in the comments section, here. stay tuned.