February 2015, Healthy Organizations Newsletter
Break Through Consulting
Wendy Kuhn
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In this newsletter, we will explore how organizations can benefit from the positive impacts of a healthy, motivated, engaged workforce.

Making Email Work For You (and not Against You)

When I talk to people about work life balance and strategies to manage their energy to achieve their goals, the subject of email inevitably arises.  It creates stress and pressure, it interferes with other work, and often interferes with non work activities.  It is also a key element for work productivity.

According to the Radicati Group, more than “100 billion emails are sent and received per day. Email is  the predominant form of communication in the business space. This trend is expected to continue, and business email will account for over 132 billion emails sent and received per day by the end of 2017.”

To be effective at work, it is often necessary to respond quickly to emails.  At the same time, a response to one email then generates many more – like a multi-headed hydra where one head is cut off and two more appear.    In addition, many people manage their personal lives, especially at work, through email.

There are a number of tools and strategies available to reduce your email load.  Just because emails are delivered instantaneously,  does not mean that we need to respond instantaneously, especially when involved in another task whether it is a conversation or driving.  These tips may prove beneficial to you.
My colleague Pamela Erskine and I are offering a complimentary Webinar about adopting change in healthy organizations.  There's still time to register for this exciting event!    I hope you can join us.   Learn more in my blog post containing tips for healthy organizational  change.   Or check out the press release - An Innovative Approach to the Adoption of Organizational Change.
My recent blog post with Four Tips for being a Healthy Leader seemed to resonate with a lot of people.  Check it out!  If you like what I have to say, on that same page, you can sign up to receive my blog posts in your inbox. 
  • Roll with it.  There are tools that will roll up and let you unsubscribe from lists that you are on.  This way you can look at your subscriptions at your leisure rather than sorting through them and possibly missing emails that are actually directed to you.  I use
  • Schedule it. While not possible for all people in all jobs, set specific blocks of time  to  read and respond to emails.   Setting an alert for urgent emails (for example from your boss) might make this easier. 
  • Don't go to bed with it.  Don’t check emails after a certain time at night or before a certain time in the morning  There is scientific evidence that time spent on a computer screen in the two hours before bed significantly interferes with sleep.  Poor or insufficient sleep directly impacts job performance. 
  • Read it. Be sure to read the entire email. Especially on mobile devices, it is possible to miss part of an email if you don’t scroll all the way down.  While you may feel good about being able to quickly respond to an email, missing a key part, could lead to a huge email exchange and both a time and energy drain.
  • Use your Phone to Talk to People  Responding to important emails from a smart phone, unless absolutely necessary, often leads to miscommunication.  Most of the time, for important issues, it is better to have a moment to think about it rather than responding on the run and responding on a larger device is easier and will enable you to be more thoughtful. 
  • Do Not Require a Reply. Compose your email so that it does not require a reply.   Often even something as simple as scheduling lunch, whether for business or pleasure, can require a 20 email exchange.   “Where do you want to meet?”, “I don’t know, what do you think?”, “I can do 11:30 but would you prefer 12:00?” Instead try short declarative sentences.  “I’ll meet you at Whole Foods for lunch at 11:45 in front of the salad bar unless I hear from you otherwise.”  You can even take it a step further as a friend of mine does and say “No Response Necessary" or "NRN."
  • No Affect Allowed. Remember that email does not convey affect.  If you are in the midst of a frustrating email conversation, consider that the other person or people might be equally frustrated.  Pick up the phone and call or walk down the hall. 
  • Copying is not Always Best.  Be thoughtful about who you copy (and especially who you bcc – in fact, I recommend never using bcc unless it is to hide the membership of a large distribution list.)    Unnecessary copying will only increase your email volume.
  • Organize your email.  Create a structure that works for you and use it.   Strive to handle each email only once, after you have read it file or label it appropriately so you don't need to revisit it.
  • It’s a record. Remember that you are creating a written record (especially if you work in a public records organization) and that you never know who might see your email.  Reread it before you hit send, make sure it is something you want to say not just to the person to whom it is directed, but consider what other people might think if they see it.  This actually applies to all social media.
  • B-r-e-a-t-h-e.  On important emails take a deep breath before hitting send, be sure it is what you want to say and how you want to say it.  Consider that the recipient will not be able to see your face or hear your voice.   Similarly, if you read an email that is distressing to you, take a moment to breathe and re-read it.  Does it really say what you think it says, is it possible you are reading too much or too little into it? While it might feel like this requires time that is not available, an extra twenty or thirty seconds up front may save not only time down the road, but also anxiety and stress as well as money, clients, productivity, or revenue.
  • Text wisely. Texting could probably be a category on its own, but perhaps I am old school enough to include it here.    All of these same ideas apply to texting as well, but more so.  Don’t text and drive, or  text and walk, or text and bike.  Just don’t do it.  Few things are that urgent.   Texting has replaced casual conversation. It is important to remember that it has no affect and its casual nature may lead to unnecessary misunderstandings.  As with emails, it is hard to type long messages on a phone.  It is easy to get out of synch where a text response is composed and sent while a different text comes in – leading to a very disjointed conversation. If a conversation is getting twisted, consider calling the person directly or switch to email.
  • Don't hit send when you are angry.  Anger clouds judgment. Even if anger is justified, an angry response will often exacerbate the problem and reflect poorly on the sender.  Wait until the anger subsides, and then you will find it easier to articulate a more strategic, thoughtful, and effective response.  Another choice is to write the email but not send it until you have a chance to review it the next morning.
Which of these tips resonate for you? Let me know which you have tried and if there are other approaches that you find to be effective and that you want me to share with others.
There is still time to register for our Complimentary webinar.
"Embrace Organizational Adoption Techniques and Improve Your Bottom Line:  How Health and Wellness Directly Link to Improved Results"
About Me
I am a strategic planning and implementation consultant with extensive experience helping government, business, and non-profit organizations achieve their vision.   I have more than twenty years of experience in management and IT consulting, facilitation, program management, business relationship management, business process redesign and IT Service Management development.  I am also a Certified Health Coach and HeartMathâ„¢ Mentor.

My Philosophy

I have often seen projects, programs, and strategic plans fail or not be fully implemented.  One of the contributing factors is often a work force that is over-stressed, unhealthy, and not committed to the end result. At the same time, corporate health and wellness programs tend to be underutilized with employees not taking advantage of available opportunities.  

One common key component of successful strategic planning, successful programs, and successful project management is a fully engaged workforce.   By incorporating health and wellness into these efforts, rather than having health and wellness programs as separate functions, the employees have a voice in what is included in the program and see their ability to influence and engage with corporate strategies.   In my experience, including employee wellness in corporate strategies demonstrates the organization’s commitment to their employees and leads to a more productive, healthier, more creative, and more engaged workforce. 

My focus is working with organizations to help them grow and reach the next level.

Learn more about me
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