This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

HP Guide to Avoiding Info-Mania

In relation to the recent articles about email lowering IQ, Deb Coates at the Tech, Knowledge and Community blog found the HP (UK) Guide to Avoiding Info-Mania, which says, in part

New research, commissioned on behalf of technology experts Hewlett Packard, reveals that 62% of adults are addicted to checking messages out of office hours and whilst on holiday.  Half of workers will respond to an email immediately or within 60 minutes and one in five people are "happy" to interrupt a business or social meeting to respond to an email or telephone message.

The work was conducted with Dr. Glenn Wilson at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London.  The full report offers some basic guidelines to dealing with email, people and meetings.  Here are the set of email suggestions:

  • Use subject headers that will help your audience prioritise responses by indicating actions and timeframes for completion.
  • Set dedicated daily email time. This will allow you time to concentrate on actually dealing with email without being distracted.
  • Cut down on sending unnecessary one word emails to colleagues, such as those that just say 'thanks.'
  • Plan ahead when sending emails and send one email where possible rather than five separate emails
  • Try not to focus on just clearing email or queries from an inbox without being aware of the quality of the responses.
  • Include the important focus of the email at the top to save those who receive it having to scroll through a lengthy email chain.
  • Use dead travelling time to deal with messages, for example working on the way to and from work. Some HP workers believe they are up to 20-30% more productive by doing this.  [JV: This works for people who commute by train.  Please don't do this in your car or on your bicycle.]
  • If you need an immediate response from someone, try using another more appropriate technology.
  • Consider your productivity objectively. Working longer hours does not necessarily make you more productive. Consider giving yourself a deadline to leave the office on time twice a week. Working to a strict deadline can often result in higher productivity.
  • Work from home if possible when you need to clear backlogs. Avoid falling into the idea of 'presenteeism.' People can be productive when working away from the office. If working from home is not possible - consider taking some time in a meeting room to be away from distractions.

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