There’s much chatter these days about doing away with email clutter (more on that in the next installment).

Company after company proclaims weekly moratoria on inbox traffic, seeks solutions like Slack and Yammer, even banishes the e-letter outright.

Somehow, the bane of billions @ work re-appears. 

Those of us who complain about e-overload need look no further than right outside the United States, where Internet access (and email) is prized.  India, with only 15 percent of its population connected, plans to hook everyone into fiber-optic cable by 2019.  Indonesia is only one percentage point better.  Even China, with its massive population, has only linked 46 percent to the Internet.

What’s more, it often takes about 15 or more minutes to actually receive the missive, even in New Delhi, the heart of the Indian government.

In contrast, simply remember our e-luck (and connectivity).  Besides, as a nation that expects immediate gratification, the delivery of email here waits for nothing, except an offline or damaged server or viruses or … .

Our solution to the clutter:  A long-time newspaper columnist designated August 7 as National Write That Note Day.  No excuses.  No delays.  As she points out, Paper Source stores are alive and well and expanding.  So someone must be writing.

What’s perfect for pen and paper, despite the ‘snail mail’ designation?   Condolences.  Congratulations.  Catching up with old friends.  The holiday family letter. 

It’s doing the right thing, no matter what you say.


Much of today’s pop non-fiction is obsessed with conversations.  That is, the lack of them.   The face-to-face type.

Blame quickly shifts to the Millennials who grew up with technology in hand.  And then extends to everyone and anyone who works for a living, over-relying on social media and smartphones, on apps and e-widgets.

Yet it ain’t all the fault of IT.  Nor can we point fingers to specific cohorts, because, truth! everyone indulges.  It’s just easier to communicate with things other than our mouths, our voices, our hearts.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, a Yale professor of computer science, half tongue in cheek and half not, proposes a Talknet for seniors.  That is, a 365/24/7 system that allows elderfolks the ability to tune into any dialogue going on around the world.  His plan is simple:  Five choices on screen, each with no more than ten participants.  Start your own conversation.  Or wait for others to leave.  Or, quite simply, listen in with computer speakers.

It’s an imaginary concept that could work, quite well, in corporate settings.  And not just for seniors.  It would train employees in the art and craft of talking.  It might be a good substitute for some learning and development courses (with apologies to those professionals).  And it could replace the communities of practice, the Yammers of the world, and corporate jam sessions (among others), helping workers realize that there’s much to be gained in connecting and relating live.

The fault, dear Brutus …


It’s rare to hear this childhood plaint these days.*

Or is it?

What percentage of adult work these days is spent doing mindless stuff like expense accounts, surfing the Internet, or zoning out?

Simply put, those activities are our way of expressing boredom.

Or are they?

Today, more and more psychologists are advocating that we give our brains some downtime to improve mental health and allow ideas to incubate.  After all, they point out, Archimedes discovered the ‘volume parity’ principle while bathing.  Sir Paul McCartney composed the “Yesterday” tune in his sleep.  Of late, the media is zeroing in on Americans’ propensity to not take vacations, noting that 61 percent of us work during our time off and, in 2013, each of us banked five unused vacation days.

Do those facts and figures point to our compulsive busynesses, powered by technology?  Our guilt if there’s nothing to do?  Or to behaviors that the workplace and, often, state of the economy seem to mandate?

We’d say ‘all of the above.’  The idea of doing nothing might be anathema.  On the other hand, what better place to start unthinking than at work?  See it now:  Five-minute think breaks every so many hours.  Coffee (and tea) interludes without staring at anything.  Electronics unplugging once a day for x number of minutes.

Stop.  Pause.  Breathe.  Create.

*We’ll guarantee you’ll never have to hear Mom’s rejoinder:  “Go hit your head against a wall, then.”


Any former Girl Scouts in our readership?

The phrase should be familiar – and it stayed in our memories after attending a GS Tribute Dinner a few weeks ago.   Where we were, indeed, meeting new acquaintances.

But ‘pinged’ in a different way.  There’s been much ado, for years, about networking:  the how-tos, not-tos, remember-tos, and business card-tos.  A number of MBA schools are now, in fact, teaching the soft skills of U.S. work connections to international students who don’t understand the intricacies of our culture.  So they learn, at lunches and after classes, the ins and outs of email greetings and small talk at networking events.

What, however, is lacking in many American skill sets is the art and craft of relationships.  A number of our colleagues, having found a new job, quickly drop all the connections they’ve carefully garnered to get employed.  Or they, suddenly, forgot the help and kindnesses of strangers. 

No, it’s not a complaint.  Rather, we’re pointing out that relationships in the workplace can make or break a career.  Genuinely caring about your compatriots is not necessarily a gender trait.  Nor is touching base frequently with peers, upper management, team members, and staff a brown-nosing activity.  It’s through the give and take, the honest exchange that, quite frankly, builds business and success.  Sharing knowledge, stories, and emotions gives us a personal face, one that’s okay to reveal in the workplace.

Technology makes it oh-so-easy to connect, hassle free.  Isn’t it time we take the IT out of our relationships?