Clutter Folder

I enabled the Clutter function in Outlook and OWA about a month ago. It uses artificial intelligence to puts mass emails and emails that you don’t usually open into a new Outlook email folder called Clutter. It works well. It’s been better than most Junk mail filters at deciding what to remove from my Inbox. I had thought, “I do want all my mass emails that I receive” and I still do, but having them in a different folder works.

The best part is, it puts everything which I wouldn’t want to be notified of in my Clutter folder. So, now I can set my phone to chime when personal emails come in, because my Inbox now only registers a new email when I get a personal email (since the mass emails now go into the Clutter folder).  I have an Inbox, a Clutter folder, and a Junk folder to check, but that’s working out better than having just an Inbox and Junk.

Strategy in Company Location and Technology Choice (or Non-Choice)

​I occasionally look at classified ads of companies seeking employees. In a large number of them, two things stick out as compromising the productivity and competitiveness of firms. Small decisions or non-decisions that lead to failing to change, add up.

First is location. Are you going to get creative employees if you’re located in an out-of-the-way location? How about not being on transit lines? Or being located distant from your desired hires? No. Heard about a non-profit that moved out of Dupont Circle, “Why would I want to stay? There’s no train, no parking, nowhere to eat lunch, and no one nearby to each lunch with!”

Second is technology choice. If you have too varied, legacy, or just plain unappealingly technology in your job descriptions, good candidates are going to look on to ads asking people to work with tools that will better develop their career potential. Cold Fusion and Lotus Notes come to mind. Consolidating on as few technologies attracts competent specialists. When I see an ad looking for someone to maintain a long list of software titles, I think, “Good luck finding someone willing to do that – never mind someone good at it.”

If you think you are saving money by having low rent and retaining old technology, you are likely being penny wise and dollar foolish.

Pants and Soulcraft

​I was enjoying the audiobook The Year Without Pants so much that I was hoping it would never end. Despite that, when about halfway through Pants, I began trying to decide between two books to listen to next. I was really torn between two.

Seemingly serendipitously, as I finished the last few minutes of Pants, the book I would listen to next was pretty much decided when Pants referred to one of the two books I was thinking about reading next. Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford had been on my reading/listening list for 4 years.

Soulcraft is related to Pants. They are both about the future of work. Pants is about how WordPress succeeds at remote work, and Soulcraft is about how on-site work is important. For a 2013 technology book like Pants to refer to the (ancient by technology book standards) four-year-old and not hugely-popular Soulcraft decided it for me. That tie between Pants and Soulcraft sealed my decision to listen to Soulcraft next.

If you get too much email, maybe you should spend more time WRITING each email

If you concentrate on writing clearly and concisely, when it’s your role to weigh in, to only the people who need that information, you and your co-workers will get less email. When someone multi-tasking fires off an unclear email to 8 people, that will often generate 10 more emails rather than settle a matter as intended.

By trying to multi-task you often make your entire organization less productive. I often think, “That email was great for 2 people on the email list and completely confused the other 12. Now, someone is going to spend a lot more time cleaning that mess up.” All the recent studies have shown that multi-tasking is much less productive than deep concentration.

I can’t tell you how often I hear someone say that they can’t get any work done at the office. They have to get their REAL work done at home or on a plane. That’s a corporate communication culture problem that needs to be addressed. I’ll often say. “I don’t think that’s a meeting issue. We can solve that by  email or phone in less time than it would take for us to prep and gather for a meeting.” Death by PowerPoint.

When someone responds to “How are you?” with “Busy” every time, I see that more as a time and lifestyle management problem than a point of pride. Skipping sleep does not make you more productive. All these little behaviors add up.

A Few Reasons Why I Hate Texting

I hate texting for the below reasons. This opinion is, admittedly, out of the main stream. I thought I’d document and explain.

Everyone I communicate with has email to their phone. Email has many more capabilities. Most people lose their text archive when they get a new phone.

I’m sitting here next to my computer happily typing away and the cell phone over by the door makes this unfamiliar noise that means I have a text message. Texting’s the only medium that one can’t use on a full keyboard.

An exception is that some workplaces use Chatter, Skype, or Yammer successfully. Those are usually answerable multi-modally by computer or phone..

Texting got popular when people were too cheap to pay for minutes to talk and I think a lot of this continued because early iPhone weren’t very good for voice. Now, minutes are cheap and most phones actually work as phones.

Texting is supposedly less intrusive than phoning. But a call goes to VM and you answer when you choose. One is expected to promptly answer a text. If the sender or receiver happens to be in a different country you pay more.

Can’t we just simplify. Between phone, email, Facebook chat, Skype, Skype chat, and Twitter, there are plenty of ways to reach me. And call me “old fashioned”, but I think spelling and punctuation actually contribute to understanding. Half the texts I get make no sense.

I don’t have a texting plan, and I don’t really want one. Each text sent and each received cost me the ridiculous sum 20 cents. That usually costs me less than the ridiculous sum of $5 for the min 200 texts a month plan. Texts cost the carrier almost nothing.

Entrepreneurial Office Supply Extremism

One of the things about working for and with small businesses is that you have to do almost everything yourself. This morning when I was trying to print out a contract to sign, the ink ran out in my printer right before it printed the signature page. Of course the client needed it signed and scanned back immediately. I pulled the black ink cartridge out, went over to the sink, and blew into the air hole in the top of the little tank. Some ink squirted out. So, I put it back in the printer. It worked enough to print a few more docs. That’s an awesome entrepreneurial office supply hack if I do have to say so myself.