October 27, 2007

Email 9-1-1 and the 80%

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 5:44 pm

The Annoying Productive Guy At Work: Shaming Users One Color At A Time

“My new assistant is an 18-year-old ‘millennial,’ as I guess we’re calling them now. He’s a young computer Borg who could hack before he could walk. In a probably vain attempt to keep him from quitting before I get in at least one decent vacation, I’m constantly looking for ways to keep him engaged.
‘What IS all this crap??’ He guffaws at the cascade of emails that greets us every morning. ‘Do you really READ all of this??’
You don’t read it, I tell him, you PROCESS it. It’ll take months before he learns to fish the actions out from the dozens and dozens of messages clogging his in-box all day long. But once he learns to manage the broadcast, he’ll also get a front-row seat for the epic drama of fear and heartbreak that passes through our mail server every day. Our company’s high reliance on email creates such a dense barrage that it creates a perfect means through which things fall through the cracks….
In effect, I’ve started an ongoing email clinic. Some people respond to the competition: they want a lower number than Lumpy in the next desk over. Others will just add me to their pile of unread messages. But folks are also coming forward who are genuinely interested in freeing themselves. I’m sure my approach won’t work on everyone. After all, no one gets up at the crack of dawn and tries to cram 60-plus hours of work into 40-hour work week, just so they can satisfy the arbitrary impositions of some guy from another department that they hardly know. But I keep the offer out there, and eventually I’ll rescue the ones worth saving. To be honest though, I’m really just trying to save myself. It’s these modest checks in the win column that help me make it through the work day.” [43 Folders]

I totally get the whole “What is all this crap?” sentiment. :-p
I would have implemented this as a carrot, rather than a stick, but I love that attitude of helping others who are ready to be helped. It’s where many of us have to put our energies in order to be effective. Who can you help?
See also: Five Tips for Implementing Social Software in Your Library from Rob Coers, via Michael Stephens. I love Rob’s slide (and attitude), and I love Michael’s addition of “focus on the positive.” Life is too short to spend it being negative, folks. Again, I ask, who can you help?

Rob's Tip #2

1 Comment

  1. On the issue of keeping up with a heavy stream of emails (and other communications) I recommend Thomas Limoncelli’s “Time Management for System Administrators.” Sysadmins and Librarians have a *lot* in common and Sysadmins have a long history of dealing with large work volumes, constant interuptions, complex problems, multiple masters/stakeholders, and limited time.
    Limoncelli’s book is practical and concise. It isn’t about applying technology to the problem, its about solving the problem in a human-centered-context. I suspect that any librarian that reads “Time Management for Sysadmins” will wonder why it wasn’t titled “Time Management for Librarians.” Indeed it applies well to most knowledge workers.

    Comment by Cloned Milkmen — October 27, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

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