We’ve all done it. The meeting is going on and on. Your boss is rambling. You “get” the gist of the concept. You’re bored. Your mind drifts. Hmmm. Wonder what newfound treasure has appeared in my PDA? Who will notice if you sneak a peak?
Your boss will. Others in the meeting will. Don’t do it. You could be committing career suicide.
Robert Half & Associates recently conducted a study of 150 senior executives, which showed that 31 percent of them found it inappropriate for employees to check PDAs during meetings. Despite this finding, 86 percent of the senior executives polled had witnessed people engaging in this behavior.
So, if nearly one out of three execs in the study saw that behavior as inappropriate, the odds are against you. And the others in the meeting, who could be future executives, could also have an impact on your professional future.
Behavior in meetings can be career enhancing or career busting. People draw conclusions about people’s leadership styles, preparedness, communication, and value by how they participate in meetings.
So if you want to short cut your career, just pull out that PDA.
Why can the quick check of that PDA be so hurtful?
Consider this. We’ve all been in conversations with people who look elsewhere while talking with us. It’s irritating because it appears that they’re looking for someone more important to meet, or just plain aren’t focused on the conversation at hand. It’s rude. Translating this to the sneak check of the Blackberry, we’ve just done the same thing. We’ve taken our focus off the subject at hand effectively insulting the party running the meeting or the person across the table.
PDAs are no different from any other new technology, and guidelines as to expectations and usage must be set. The constant access provided by PDAs means that they can easily lead us to become consumed by work during all hours. By not encouraging people to maintain a good work-life balance, productivity suffers, and employees become so involved in responding to messages that they may act in ways that can be career-damaging – and potentially even hazardous. Checking and responding in meetings is not the only PDA career blunder. Here are some others:
• Placing the PDA on the meeting or dining table
• Having sound reminders that go off while in meetings or public events
• Having long sound reminder themes that play loudly – no one needs to hear a full song every time you receive an email
• Reading email while attempting to have a conversation
• Playing videos and other sounds loudly
• Typing while you are walking or driving
If you follow a clear set of guidelines, however, PDA technology becomes a powerful ally that can enhance your career:
• Show respect for meeting organizers and avoid annoying your colleagues by turning off your PDA before the meeting starts and keeping it out of sight.
• If you waiting for an urgent call or email, inform the meeting organizer in advance that you may have excuse yourself for a moment to attend to an urgent matter.
• When in a meeting, having a one-to-one conference, or at a restaurant, do not put the PDA on the table or check it in the middle of a conversation – it gives the impression that the PDA is more important than with the subject at hand.
• When you need to type a message, excuse yourself and find a private place to do it.
• Set the ring tone volume only as high as you absolutely need, and avoid ring themes that are lengthy or annoying.
• Turn all ring tones off when the lights go down whether you’re at the movies, at a concert, or at any other a public event.
• Take control of your PDA, not the other way around. Decide when you are going to turn it off so that you can focus on your family, your hobby, or your spouse – and leave it off.
• Never text while driving. Never check or read email while driving. Never search your address book for contacts while driving. The consequences could be devastating – and not just for you.
As with any other tool, when used with appropriate guidelines, PDAs have the potential to increase efficiency and productivity. But if you’re not careful, the constant connectivity they provide can quickly become all-consuming and career limiting. Managing your career means managing the impressions others have of your abilities and values. Respect for others is a leadership trait universally admired.
Do yourself a favor. Keep the Blackberry out of sight and out of mind when your attention should be on something else.
Has business communication evolved to a more social activity? Is email headed down the same path as the hand-written letter? Is email dying? I say NO.
Recently, a Computerworld editorial piece suggested it might be time to wave goodbye to email as the core business and personal communication. To that writer, email’s central role in our daily lives has been pushed aside by the rapid growth of social networking services like Facebook and Twitter and by the increased use of collaboration tools like Microsoft SharePoint.
You can stop mourning because email isn’t going anywhere. Email will remain a primary communication tool in offices across the world, despite the increased integration between it and social media platforms.
With more people joining social networks (Facebook just hit the 600 million mark), online communities are used for personal communications and relationships more and more. The ease of posting a comment on a wall or discussion group keeps people in touch with their friends and networks and adds to the pleasure of their lives. Does this toll the death knell for email? Definitely not. In fact, the entry of social media as a personal communication medium may take some of the pressure off of business email, allowing it to be used in the way it works best – to communicate information and transact business swiftly, efficiently, and inexpensively.
Email is not going away.
Business relies on it, and business sure isn’t going away. The velocity of business transactions continues to soar. The speed of communication has advanced from days to hours to minutes to seconds. The ability to transmit documents across the world in seconds underscores email’s value to the business world.
Even though many communicate via social networks, the foundational medium for business communication will remain email. With workers spending the majority of their days conducting business, email as their primary communication tool will continue to grow. Social networks, while they no doubt have a place in business, will never be their main communication channel. Most of them rely on followers, friends, or links to enable interactions, requiring extra steps to enable communication. Additionally, email has stood the test of time, whereas some social networks have only a fleeting presence.
Yet with the ever-changing technological landscape, the use of email is bound to morph into ways we may not be able to predict. The presence of social networks will most likely impact this evolution. For instance, most social networking platforms allow members to receive messages from their site delivered to their email inboxes. When users opt for this, the volume of email entering their inboxes will (obviously) increase. The flow of these messages into email accounts will certainly make email more social, but workers will have to develop new habits to manage all of them.
The inevitable frustration following an overload of social networks into email systems will also be a challenge for many. Work/life balance and priority-setting issues are bound to grow as workers fall behind in handling all the messages delivered to their inboxes. Managers will have to stay on top of the trends in order to ensure that their workers stay on top of their work.
Due to the advent of social networking, separating business and social communication might actually be easier than before. It may evolve so that email will be used more and more for purely business reasons, while online social interactions will be reserved for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and whatever future iterations of these may come.
We do know is that the way people use email is bound to change. The sheer volume of email that the average worker receives will dictate different ways to manage and respond. We also know that businesses rely on email. Business is not going away and neither is email. The future use of email remains to be seen, but we can at least see where it’s going. Email is not dying, so instead of wishing it an “R.I.P.,” remember that email is still a WIP, a work in progress that’s evolving alongside our other communication tools.
What do YOU think?
“I am so overwhelmed!” “I have so much to do, I don’t know where to begin!” “How am I going to get it all done?!”
These are not uncommon comments or pleas that we hear it these days. It seems that everyone’s plates are full or are becoming fuller. The pressures created by these recessionary times are only adding to our frustrations. Here are FIVE strategies to deal with these feelings of being overwhelmed:
Accept that you will never get it all done. For people of action, there will always be more to do. If you give yourself permission to not get it all done, you can minimize some stress. Once you’ve made this agreement with yourself, it enables you to more freely choose what you will focus on.
Decide what is most important, and work on that item. Some people save the most important stuff for a block of time that they think they will have in the future, and instead, knockoff several of the lesser important, easier items. This is a poor use of that precious commodity – time. While handling the small stuff may help people feel good for the moment, the big, important project is still not getting done. By taking a few moments to plan your work, each day, you will be able to decide what is most important, and focus your efforts there.
Focus only on the task at hand. Many times, people will be thinking about everything else on their to do list while they are working on a certain project. This not only distracts people from doing a good job on the project at hand, but it can add stress. Therefore by focusing on the task, fully and completely, you can do a better job on it, and reduce your stress about the other things on your list. This also means that you should minimize your interruptions as best you can—as an example, close down your email so the ding or flash cannot destroy your concentration.
Say no. Some of us have a hard time saying no to requests from others. For you to get the most important items done, there may be times that you need to simply say no! Many folks who feel overwhelmed feel that way because of an inability to say no to requests from others. So, before you say yes, next time, take a breath and figure out where it will lie among your priorities.
Own your attitude. If you feel overwhelmed, it is most likely because you have allowed yourself to feel that way. You can choose to feel overwhelmed by all of the work on your list, or you can choose to focus on the task at hand. When you feel yourself being sapped by an emotional response to your to-do list, try to stand back and recognize that your emotions are your choice. By shifting your response to one that is positive and focused on the task at hand, you can enjoy the progress you are making. Your attitude is your choice. Which one will you choose?
What other tips do you have to share about conquering the overwhelm?
How many times have you checked your email, only to find a problem that you couldn’t act upon or manage at that moment?
How many times have you check that PDA just before bed, only to see something that subsequently disturbed your sleep – again because you were up too late to call or fix it?
How many times have you snuck a peak at your Blackberry during a meeting that you couldn’t respond to, yet distracted you from the meeting?
Yes, I know -ALL too many!
Well, here’s the tip of the day… STOP checking email when you know you can’t immediately handle that new found problem that just graced your inbox!
This is one of the most simple tips we can think of that will help you with your stress levels. The challenge is that it takes discipline to resist your anticipation of new-found treasure, which just new found stress.
So, here are a few hints:
- Don’t check email right before bed or a well deserved nap
- Don’t check email as you are going out the door on a hot date or family outing
- Put the PDA away during meetings
- Stop checking your iPhone while driving
- And for gosh’s sake, don’t check that Blackberry just before its your turn on the golf course!
Any other suggestions?
Sometimes you need to get a new email address since one is full of spam, but don’t destroy it — use it for sites that aren’t important. I personally have three emails; one that I give out to forums, and sites like that, another for business, and a third for family.
This way I know that the forum email can get clogged with spam and I won’t care since I never really use it. I even have set up a false name and address for that email and use a dead cell phone number on it too, this way I don’t have to worry about people stealing my identity.
If I need to make transactions I use my business email for that, this one is my most active one, and because of that I constantly clean it out and keep it clutter free. I also use this for work.
One tip is if you use your “business” email to also look for work– don’t use a cute name, stick with your actual name and follow it by numbers. It looks more professional, if you use a ‘cute’ name they might not even look at your resume.
The family/friend one can have a cute name since only family/friends have access to it. This one is the second least checked account, since everyone has a social network page. This way you can keep all three lives separate your “Business”, “social/family”, and “Internet personality”.
About the Author:
Heather Green is a freelance writer for several regional magazines in North Carolina as well as a resident blogger for onlinenursingdegrees.org. Her writing experience includes fashion, business, health, agriculture and a wide range of other topics. Heather has just completed research onnurse types and clinical nurse specialist programs online.
Maybe you’ve become aware of the fact that you can’t seem to stop yourself from refreshing your Gmail inbox, your Facebook homepage, or your endless Twitter feed. Maybe you’re a student working toward your master’s degree, and you’re working full-time, too, to pay your way through school and you’ve come to realize your dependency on (or perhaps obsession with) the Internet. If you’re starting to think this sounds a lot like you, then maybe it’s time for an Internet detox.
At first it sounds scary. Even impossible. Maybe you’re genuinely perplexed when you begin to wonder how you ever survived before the Internet came along. Maybe you’ve taken after the “digital natives” and have forgotten what answering machines were for.
But we survived. Before the iPhone, we really did survive. And our minds were calmer then. The endless chatter of online communication — whether trivial or business-related — has removed many of us from the simpler life and led us to forget how to relax.
It is okay to take a break. You are allowed a break. You are allowed freedom. And it’s healthy to take a vacation from work, school, the “Twitterverse” every once in a while. Tell yourself you deserve it (because you do).
We live in a fast-paced world of technological communication where we are now able and expected to communicate with our coworkers, bosses, friends, family and community anytime, anywhere, 24/7; the Internet has morphed us into, if not workaholics, webaholics. So, as hard as it may be at first, it’s more important than ever to let yourself take a short-but-sweet vacation from your online responsibilities: to close your laptop, turn off your phone, and unplug your commitments for a while, to enjoy what you’ve probably missed out on for far too long: real life.
Emily Matthews is currently applying to master’s degree programs across the U.S., and loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature. She lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.
View this great online slideshow of 9 signs that you might be addicted to your Smartphone, composed by Dennis McCafferty of CIO Insight.
- Texting while drving a two ton killing machine?
- Withdrawel symptoms?
- Having to have it “always on?”
Have we missed any?
I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you, but your system of marking emails Unread is just not working. How many Unread emails have you got now? Is it more than 10? More than 50? Or even – more than 500?! Well, I think you need some tough love – either you get control of your inbox soon or you’ll end up having to declare email bankruptcy.
So how can you get back in control of your Gmail account? Just follow this simple 3 Star System in Gmail:
Red Star: Response definitely required, ideally in the next 1-2 days. Examples: Confirming attendance at an event, replying about a job application.
Blue Star: Response not necessarily required and the reply can be sent any time in the next 10 days. Examples – chatting with friends, replying to a tech support response.
Orange Arrows Star: I associate the arrows with the play/fast forward button on a VCR and thus usually mark forwarded YouTube videos, photos of a friend’s kids etc. with this Star. Replying is optional to these emails as they are often mailed to both you and a bunch of others.
Finally, here’s how to set it up:
1. Go to your Mail settings
2. Make the Red, Blue and Orange Arrows stars ‘In use’:
3. Now all you need to do is stick to the system and email bliss beckons
About the Author
Duncan Murtagh is co-founder of www.GetVetter.com, an online employee suggestion box that helps managers get more ideas from employees. You can follow Duncan & Vetter on Twitter at @getvetter
The end of Daylight Savings Time is now and you know what that means: We’re losing an hour of daylight! (Argghh…)
Okay, okay, we don’t really “lose” an hour… but with the clocks being shifted back an hour it certainly feels like it. So, in response to the end of Daylight Savings Time, I’d like to propose that we begin Email Savings Time! This means that starting on November 6th, everyone reclaims an hour per day from their inbox by managing their email more effectively and efficiently.
I know at this point some people will say to themselves, “But Marsha, I don’t even spend that much time in my inbox. How can I even reclaim an hour per day from working on email?”
My answer is that most people don’t even realize how much time they spend on email. Here are the facts:
- On a daily basis, knowledge workers (basically anyone who works on a computer) handle an average of about 110 emails.
- They spend roughly 25 percent of their time working on emails and visit their inboxes 50 times per day.
- Over the course of a year, this adds up to 500 hours and 12,500 inbox visits per worker!
So with this in mind, let’s not lose an hour each day when Daylight Saving Time ends… let’s take back an hour (or more) with Email Savings Time. Here’s how to do it.
1) Check Your Inbox Five Times Daily (Or Less)
Shut down the entire inbox and open it a maximum of five specific times each day. In even the most demanding work offices, five inbox checks a day will allow you to open your inbox nearly every 90 minutes during an eight hour day. If someone needs something in sooner than 90 minutes, they should call.
2) Simplify Your Messages
First, make sure your writing is as clear and as concise as possible. Put the main points of your email in the first sentences and avoid abbreviations. Reduce back and forth emails by using “If/Then” statements and list a number of different options for your reader to choose from.
Second, pick up the phone more! Email is not a substitute for conversation. It’s a tool to share data. Before you click send, ask yourself if it will require more than two emails from you. If the answer is yes, pick up the phone and make the call.
3) Clean Out Your Inbox
The average worker gets about 110 emails a day. That means if you check your inbox five specific times a day you will have around 22 messages to “empty” each time. Emptying means that you delete each email or sort it into a folder where it can be easily retrieved later. “Empty” does not mean “work.” It means SORT! Using this method you will be able to triage and streamline your email tasks, saving you time and sanity!
By using these three tips, any knowledge worker can reclaim at least an hour per day and boost his or her productivity. And while your co-workers may have to stay late to finish up a project, you’ll be taking off from the office early, enjoying the daylight, and reaping the benefits of Email Savings Time!
For those of us who remember when having just one e-mail address was a major stressor, the idea of having multiple e-mail addresses was once a prospective nightmare. Now, it’s normal to have two or more addresses: work and/or school, a personal e-mail address for friends and family, and perhaps another personal e-mail address for online purchases and more “public” correspondence.
But sometimes, managing several addresses is complicated. Maybe you’ve accidentally e-mailed a coworker from your personal e-mail address, or maybe you’ve sent personal info to a friend from your work address. Whatever the situation, using multiple e-mail addresses can get a little messy—and finding ways to keep them organized and unmingled is important.
Protect your addresses
Be sure you don’t e-mail anyone from an address you don’t want them to have. If this means having to block a particular address from your inbox after you send them an e-mail by mistake, do it—and explain to them that in an effort to keep your inboxes organized, you’re restricting the addresses you allow to send mail to your inbox.
Keep your e-mails separate
This might seem like an easy enough task, but juggling several addresses can lead to some embarrassing—and potentially disastrous—mistakes. Clients like Gmail allow you to check several e-mail addresses at once, but the best way to avoid mixing e-mail addresses is to use each address’s separate website or user interface.
Create a “junk mail” address
As e-commerce becomes increasingly popular, people have begun to create “junk” e-mail addresses, which they use to sign up for e-commerce sites, newsletters, charity donations and other e-mail campaigns. If you do a lot of shopping online, or if you receive several electronic newsletters, consider creating your own “junk mail” address. This can be used for more than just junk, but it’s a great way to avoid clogging up your other personal e-mail addresses. This can also save you from receiving distracting e-mails in your work or school inboxes.
Make your own professional e-mail address
Having a neutral or professional e-mail address can save you a little confusion and embarrassment when you apply for employment, fill out school aid applications, or conduct any other freelance work or school correspondence. For college students and recent college graduates, creating your own personal e-mail domain can be a great way to make your e-mail address unique and professional—a recent IT degree graduate can use her personalized e-mail address to attract potential employers. Both Yahoo and Google sell domains and allow users to personalize e-mail addresses for small business and personal use.
Schedule e-mailing time
It’s an approach several people use in order to maintain their productivity throughout the day: checking e-mail only during certain times of the day, or only responding to e-mails near the end of the day. This can also be used to handle several e-mail addresses: read and respond to your work and school e-mails during the day and your personal e-mails in the evening or at a time that’s more convenient for you. For students, this can be a good way to separate their day into digestible bites: by concentrating on studying and classes instead of checking e-mail, you can avoid distraction.
Tips like these can save time and help you avoid awkward exchanges. And the more organized you can keep your inboxes, the less stressful your e-mail experience can become.
Thomas Stone is a content-author and contributing writer at Technected.