Ethan McCarty

Digital strategy | Social business | People-centric biznology

A couple 2012 resolutions

I had my first video conference of the year with my team this week and shared with them a few resolutions for my professional life.  After reading Jeremy Hodge’s post along a similar line I thought I’d put them up too (particularly since they are so similar…I can clip from his post!)

The main one I’d like to commit to is to send (and hopefully, therefore, receive) less email.  One of the main ways I figure I can do this is to make much better use of IBM’s internal collaboration system, IBM Connections.  It is, afterall, now fully deployed at IBM and all my colleagues have access to it.  Sure, we’ve had it up and running for a long time (including in prototypical states like a decade ago) but at this point it’s really gained critical mass.  Even our new CEO, Ginny Rometty is using it.

I also really liked the article “Work Smart: Disrupt your Inbox” that Jeremy referenced in his post.  It has a few simple guidelines that would make the world a much less stressful place if we all followed them.  Here they are:

Experiment with three-sentence emails for a better response rate.
Start with action-oriented steps, don’t leave them at the bottom of the email.
Market your subject lines–make them an advertisement to open and read the email.
Take disagreements offline.
Don’t “reply all” unless everyone needs to be involved.
Use numbers for reference in back-and-forth correspondence to reduce redundancy and length.

I would add, “Put NRN” at the end of emails that are “no reply necessary.”  And, “stop thanking people in separate emails.”

The other resolution I want to make for 2012 can also be found in Jeremy’s post.  No, I’m not going to attempt to learn any more code than I know already (well, actually…maybe I will…I am kinda inspired by the idea and the little bit of coding I learned over the years in HTML and XML has served me very well….hmmm.)  But seriously, the resolution is to limit multitasking This will, no doubt, prove very tough — it’s basically expected that IBMers (tech/marketing people in generally, I bet) are “expert multitaskers.”  We probably are, if an expertise can actually be described this way: being the best at doing something that makes you dumb. Claiming expertise at multitasking is a little bit like saying you’re an expert at huffing gasoline.

Minimizing multitasking is going to be tough for a lot of reasons — for one, it means I’m going to have to decline or delay a lot of meetings.  It will also mean I will schedule more time for individual tasks, which is tough to do in an organization that assumes that everyone is “pingable” on chat 24/7.  But I am gonna give it a go.  I have to.

So that’s my thought for professional resolutions for 2012.  Maybe more will come to mind, but if I can make those two happen I think I can expect a much more productive and sane year.

6 responses to “A couple 2012 resolutions

  1. Jeremy Hodge January 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the shout out Ethan. The multitasking part is a lot easier said than done, especially with people walking over or pinging you to ask a “quick” question. Those quick questions can really add up and disrupt your flow.
    I think you said it best that “Claiming expertise at multitasking is a little bit like saying you’re an expert at huffing gasoline.” I’ll be using that one a lot more in the future!

  2. Mayme Kline January 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Ethan & Jeremy — Thanks for the great suggestions for simplifying email communication. Here’s one more idea. For short messages, I just use the subject field and end with for “end of message”. My colleagues can then read and delete my transmission without having to spend time opening the email.
    Example:
    Subject: FYI – George sent me a copy of ppt from yesterday’s team mtg

  3. Mayme Kline January 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Hmmm….my text in angle brackets was deleted so now my message to you won’t make sense.

  4. jessica benjamin (@BenjammerJ) January 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I like the NRN idea…might take a while for people to catch on though. I imagine writing it and therefore having three more correspondences about what NRN means!

    Sometimes I’m guilty of making my emails longer than they need to be because if I’m asking for something I worry being blunt might come off wrong. I should probably get over that, huh?

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