Monday, August 30, 2010

Bicycling Down Elm Street

My favorite leg of my morning commute, Elm Street through the heart of Downtown Dallas. Today, got the bike up to 30mph! Fun because I was passing automobiles. Scary, because Dallas roads are terrible. Really terrible.

In fact, the only two accidents I've ever had on bicycle were caused by the poor road conditions of the streets of Dallas.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Better Email

I want to be a positive influence in your life, and make you an e-mail rock star! So, here is how we do it...Ready?...

1) Lets start with the subject line. If you are working on multiple projects, or are sending email to those who might be working on multiple projects, put the project name first, like this:

"Project Bananorama - xxxxx"


Now, lets make this make more sense. After the project name, chose something that is concise and to the point:

"Project Banaorama - OAC Meeting Minutes"

So why is this good? It's good because now the recipient can filter or file off emails for a project more easily. It would be tough if the subject was just 'OAC Meeting Minutes' because now I don't know which OAC Meeting we were talking about. You can probably leave dates out of the title because there will be dates associated with the email, unless you really need that kind of specificity.

As an added bonus, when the email is replied to and the subject line is:

"RE:Project Bananorama - OAC Meeting Minutes"

It will be easier for you to file or filter as well. What goes around comes around, if you'll pardon the phrase.

Sweet! You are now instantly better at email! But why stop here?

2) Now for the body. When you put together this email, consider what the recipient is looking for. Chances are good that it falls into one of three categories: Information, Direction or Humor. But you are probably at work, and humorous emails are never sent to each other, right? The other factor to consider is that the recipient probably has hundreds of unread or unfiled emails, and they don't want to read a treatise on meeting minutes, or whatever the subject may be. Consider something simple and elegant like this:

"I have attached meeting minutes from the Bananorama project meeting this week. If there are any questions or concerns, please let me know.


Short, sweet and to the point. About the only kind of email that requires a substantial body is a CYA email in which you need to explain how the project which is falling apart is actually Joe's fault. You know, Joe, from that other project team. I wouldn't put too much in the body unless you are confident that the recipient actually cares about what you have to say.

Awesome to the MAX!!!!!!!11!!!

3) Now to put it all together, we need to send it to somebody, right? There really is no hard and fast rule here, but suffice it to say that everyone in our society suffers from information overload. Just Google the phrase "information overload" for anecdotes and evidence to your heart's content. That being said, try to restrict the number of recipients to those who are absolutely necessary. If you know an email is going to multiple people in a business, and they have provided only one point of contact, just send it to that one point of contact and hope against hope that it makes it's way to the appropriate party. Also consider that if you are sending it to 50 people, you are probably doing it wrong. Create a group in your email and send it there.

4) Create rules to automatically sort your mail to the greatest degree possible. Otherwise, your email box will explode and you will not be able to manage it. If you have multiple projects, create a folder for each project. And if you know there is some repetitive email that you need to keep close track of, put it in a sub folder explicitly for that purpose. The idea is that as you get better at creating these rules, there will be less and less work involved in keeping your inbox clear.

5) Now for the single most powerful lesson in managing email:


You won't get any of the more important stuff done, and emails will keep piling up as you try to address every item that comes into your inbox. Email is a bit like a relationship, you have to make time for it in order for it to work out. Imagine if you tried to have a conversation with your wife while trying to type a paper, mow the lawn and talk on the phone. Pick a couple of times during the day where you do nothing but focus on reading and responding to email. I tend to address email in the following order (note that the list is in order of easiest to hardest):

- Delete any email that is not important to my job or wellbeing
- Forward any email that might better be answered by someone else, and then file it off if the rules didn't do that already.
- Read and file off email that was sent for informational purposes only (in other words, I don't need to follow up with a response on these items)
- Respond to requests for information, if it can be done in 5 minutes or less, and then file off
- Read email with tasks from higher ups, add these tasks to my to-do list, and then file off the emails

Do all this, and you WILL be an email rockstar!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Who Screens This $#!& ?!

I know this is supposed to be a post racial era, but really?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's Great to Be Alive

Perhaps this is not such a bad strategy for encouraging today's youth to make good decisions. I particularly enjoy the image of what's left over after hiding in the leaf pile. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bus of the Future

Thanks to a heads up from my coworker Mara!

Ever get stuck behind a city bus for blocks while watching the rest of traffic zoom around you and never let you over? China has the solution!

"Can't go over it, Can't go around it, Can't go under it. Let's go through it!"