Written by Anthony Demangone
I often share ideas through this blog. Some of them are novel. Others are tried and true. Reading about them is easy. Implementation is something altogether different.
That's why I love Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin was a tinkerer - always trying to improve himself or some thing. He developed a self-improvement system that helped him "implement" good habits. He listed 13 virtues he wished to promote, and he focused on one virtue at a time for a week.
In week one, he would focus on temperance. And nothing else. The next week, he would focus on silence. And nothing else. He'd go through the 13 week-cycle quite a few times during his life.
In his words...
"My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time, and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that view, as they stand above."
You can read about this in his autobiography. (USHistory.org.)
Photo by Joseph Siffred Duplessis of a public domain portrait.
Now on to email.
You know my love-hate relationship with email. I love its power, but I hate how it dominates our lives. I found this "email charter" recently, and fell in love. It lists 10 email principles. The authors' argument is simple: Many habits we've developed with email add to the pain and suffering we experience. Much of the email pain we feel is self-inflicted.
As always, read the whole list. But here are the two items that jumped out at me.
7. Attack Attachments
Don't use graphics files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments. Time is wasted trying to see if there's something to open. Even worse is sending text as an attachment when it could have been included in the body of the email.
9. Cut Contentless Responses
You don't need to reply to every email, especially not those that are themselves clear responses. An email saying "Thanks for your note. I'm in." does not need you to reply "Great." That just cost someone another 30 seconds.
In honor of Mr. Franklin, I recently focused on refraining from "contenless responses." After a few days, the habit started to kick in.
Mr. Franklin, many thanks, good sir. Bifocals. The furnace stove. The lightning rod. The odometer. And now emails.
Have a great week, guys. If you need a great chuckle, see why one credit union has a "cromance" with NAFCU.
Editor's note. This recent Washington Post article notes a growing trend in the D.C. area. Employers are telling employees not to check email over the weekend.