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Published:April 17th, 2009 19:56 EST
E-Jail: Escape and Be Productive

E-Jail: Escape and Be Productive

By Simon Bailey (Mentor/Columnist)

I have to admit, there are days when I stay on top of my e-mails and there are days when e-mail simply handcuffs me and throws me into E-Jail against my will. Can you relate? We live in a world that is connected 24-7 and demands a response no matter what is going on. I was recently in Ponce, Puerto Rico teaching a group of leaders how to escape from E-Jail.

Instead of circling the airport and dumping information, I thought I would cut to the chase and ask how much is reading and answering e-mail costing them? They looked at me like deer staring in headlights, and then I shared this information with them.   According to IDC Proving the Value of Content Technologies whitepaper, consider the following:

Information Task: Cost per worker/per wk.                   

Per worker/per wk: Cost per worker/ per yr.    

Email: read and answer 14.5 hours = $418$21,753

There are 15 other information tasks that individuals do within a forty hour work week. The interesting item to note is that more than 25% of a worker`s time (40 hour work week) is spent responding to e-mail. I realize that e-mail is a quick way to communicate and provide answers to questions or to be updated on important information. However, there are some organizations who are experiencing challenges with fluctuating trust, poor communication, territorial positioning, and teamwork that is surviving on life support.

With a tsunami of layoffs, budget cuts, salary cuts, and decreased benefits, most people in the workforce are doing everything to protect their check, cubicle, and cup of coffee. This means when they are asked to do something, instead of picking up the phone to share information or (better yet) getting up and walking down the hall to give a face to face update, they shoot off an e-mail.

I know what you are thinking, you are saying that e-mail saves time blah blah the reality is that behind content is intent. Words carry energy and sometimes e-mails are taken out of context as the receiver of the e-mail attempts to decipher and decode between the lines. How much does that cost? Then you have people who are sent over the deep-end when the sender has a need to cc:  and bcc:  in an effort to CYA. If you don`t know what CYA means, ask one of your colleagues.

Individuals who just fire off e-mails and cc:  the whole world are showing that they may have challenges with time management.  However, I realize that in many organizations there is a need to keep critical stakeholders in the loop of discussions.  But people, c`mon do we have to hit the send button because we don`t trust people? Let me remind you that trust is the emotional glue of all relationships.   

Here are some Houdini tricks to escape from E-Jail:
When you send an e-mail, put in the subject area: Action Needed or FYI (For-Your-Information). This will enable people to sift through their e-mails very quickly and see what is a need to know and what is a nice to know. That`s why most e-mails are deleted because the sender didn`t really state what the intention was upfront. Everyone in your organization should be retrained to ensure that everyone is adhering to this mode of operation.

Find out the preferred communication style of your receiver. Generation Y, this is especially important to you. Just because you enjoy instant messaging on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter doesn`t mean that a boomer customer or work partner wants you to e-mail. They may prefer a phone call or, when appropriate, a face-to-face meeting. (One-size doesn`t fit all and e-mail is sometimes the only alternative due to physical location. I get that.)
Refrain from answering your e-mails in the morning prior to planning out your day. How you start the day determines the day. Sometimes you have good intentions to stay on top of your e-mails, but all of a sudden you get sucked into an e-mail vacuum and can`t figure out how to escape. It appears as if the rest of the day gets away from you and you scratch your head at the end of it wondering what you actually accomplished.

Eliminate read receipt. If you don`t hear back from the person in a timely manner, pick up the phone and call them. If they are overseas, use Skype Video (it`s free) or Windows MSN.
I believe you are tired of being behind the productivity bars of Alcatraz (a small island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay in California). Well, it`s time to escape once and for all. Simon Says " Stop tapping and start yapping. 
Simon`s Side bar
My friend Mohamed Tohami is releasing his new book on April 15, 2009 The Pharaohs` Code: Creating a Joyful Life and a Lasting Legacy." The book is a roadmap for living your best life "a life filled with meaning, contribution, passion, and joy, and a life worth living while leaving a legacy for generations to come, just as the Pharaohs did.
He will be giving everyone who orders his book on April 15th ( ) a lifetime free access to the entire Success Avalanche experience. This includes 70+ hours of amazing success insights and motivation, and growing every month.  All you have to do is send him the book purchase receipt that you get from Amazon, and he will send you the link for lifetime access.