Training is always the first item to be cut during an economic downturn. If Mesmo Consultancy’s order books (for email best practice training) are a barometer of the state of economy, then as others are experiencing there is a distinctive feel good factor in business. We have had our busiest six months since 2011. Working with organisations of all sizes and from all sectors we are still seeing considerable scope for ways to improve personal and business performance and productivity.
Here is our pick of the top five articles and blogs from the past few weeks on ways to improve personal and business performance from reducing email overload to proof reading apps.
Suffering from email and social media disruption, feeling you have no time to stand still? This is our top pick.
A cyber attack not only dents your reputation but can also absorbs valuable time and resources on the damage limitation exercise.
Sometimes reaching for a pen and paper is the quickest way to take notes. No waiting either for the technology to boot-up or hassle if it runs out of juice.
How long does it take to get back to real productive work after you stoop to peek at either email or social media post? Sufficient time to run five miles in Roger Banister style. To be precise 23 minutes according to research from Microsoft) The moral as we have said many times before – limit all those distractions and stay in the present for at least 2o minutes.
Many top executives have amazing speed reading skills. In today’s age of information overload speed reading is an essential survival skill for all of us regardless of our position in the organisational food chain.
Traveling around the D-Day beaches made me pause for thought about just how different the records would have been if electronic records (emails etc) had been kept rather than traditional pen and paper? Would many of us still treasure troves of beautiful love letters written by our parents (and grandparents) such as Janie Emaus discovered. Would J. D. Salinger have completed ‘Catcher in the Rye’ had he not carried the manuscript in his backpack?
Looking at the beaches and conditions which our troops braved, made me wonder how well a mobile device like an iphone would have endured. After all there were no sockets for recharging such devices then, no wifi (or 3G to send our messages) and wet devices as we all know are prone to failure. Whereas pen and paper can be used anywhere and in the most adverse weather (witness Scott’s diaries).
With pen and paper whether to write a love letter, diary, one feels compelled to think before hitting the paper after all who wants to send a document with lots of crossing outs. Moreover, it is very much more personal and definitely one to one unless of course you send carbon copies. Additionally there is the whole art of graphology and what your writing says about your character. All this is missing from email and texts.
Yes, clearly electronic messages can be preserved but somehow an email does not feel as interesting as a well preserved letter (document). Emails lack the tactile attributes which certainly for me make old letters look and feel so interesting.
With email of course there is always the danger of sending your love letter to the wrong person and ending up on gardening leave as has happened to many a person.
Whilst many organisations are working hard at creating paperless offices, for myself and many others, pen and paper still have a role and especially for the more emotional communications such as love letters, diaries and thank you notes to someone who has gone the extra mile.
Indeed the fountain pen is becoming as much a status symbol as the latest electronic devices: Mont Blanc has just re-released the original Meisterstück 149 which has been used at one time or another by many leaders from J.F. Kennedy to Barack Obama.
Even in meetings I confess to working with a fountain pen and beautiful leather bound notebook from BomoArt. It does not need any electricity (or wifi), it works every time I open it, is often quicker to find jottings in than on my ipad, and there is no chance of being distracted by seeing new emails! And it makes me stand out from the crowd. Call me old fashioned, but I feel as efficient as all my colleagues.
Email overload – ask someone to do something and the response is email me! How rude is that? Last week’s post on our total reliance on email was popular. That and my current client work prompted me to post a second blog on this theme of when to use an alternative to email.
One of the most annoying comment I receive when phoning someone is ‘can you put that in an email’. If it’s a client sometimes it’s hard to say ‘no’, but with everyone else my solution is to forget! This has cost some people money as the call was to remind them to invoice me for their commission fee.
I find this the rudest response. If you have been asked to do a task, why do you need it in email? Are you suffering with dementia? Do you not have a device on which to make your own ‘To Do List’ (electronic or paper and pencil). Is it plain lazyness? Perhaps is it that you want an audit trail?
In my pocket/handbag there is always a pen and paper but perhaps that is because my parents owned a stationary business and my love of pens and paper has never left me!
Seriously, if someone asks you to do something, my management school says it is now your problem to remember and get on with it, but certainly not respond with ‘ can you put it an email’. That just compounds the cover my backside and litigious culture which now pervades most organisations.
The only exception is if you are having a corridor conversation in which you are seeding an idea with a senior executive.
What is your opinion and experience.