The week after Labor Day is traditionally considered “America Gets Back to Work Week!” by office managers and other spoilsports. Efficiency experts say the best way to “streamline” your work is to cut down on distractions, but many people return from vacation to find their email inboxes “jam-packed” with hundreds of distracting messages! Here’s how you can ”cut through the clutter” of accumulated emails and annoying “random” use of quotation marks in business advice columns:
Set a cut-off date, then delete earlier messages: Some people use very recent cut-off dates (“Hi, Jen, I see you’re back from vacation!”) while others take the safe course and choose a date that is old enough to recapture all important messages, e.g. “We will be installing something called ‘E-mail’ over the weekend. How you are getting this message is beyond me.” Once you’ve picked your date, stick to it and don’t listen to whining chain-letter sponsors who claim you will lose a finger in a lawn-mower accident if you don’t pass on their emails! Nobody cuts grass after Labor Day!
Delete all messages from people named “Steve” and “Michelle”: This may seem harsh, but you have to draw the line somewhere. If you respond to a message from one “Michelle,” pretty soon your whole first day back is shot to hell listening to people complain about their shoes, their frost jobs and their pedicures. “Stevieness and Michellability are two of the greatest drags on productivity in the American workplace,” says Norbert Scalzo, who teaches Business II at Purdue University’s Night Extension College. “The U.S. economy didn’t emerge from the recession of 2002 until unemployment among Steves and Michelles hit double digits.”
Human Resources Never Has Anything Important to Say: Let’s face it–people in HR who send around mass emails are basically frustrated TV weather-people, always yammering on about fire drills, HMO “open enrollment” periods and other worthless trivia. Who said they were the experts? Delete all emails from H.R. Director Sue Ellen and her assistant Janie–if you need to know how many personal days you have left this year ask Michelle in the copy center.
If it’s from “Corporate HQ,” it’s not important to you: What’s the point of working at a faceless corporation if you can’t be faceless? Do these people think just because they pay you money and give you health insurance they can run your life? Don’t let them! Search for “corporate policy,” “accounting” and “finance” in the subject line, then hit that “Delete” button ’til your finger screams.
Charity Begins at Home and Ends at the Office: Who knew that little Tiffany Marie’s U-12 softball team was going to Disney World? More important, who cares? And how about those chocolate raisin bars Devin is selling so his junior high drum and bugle corps can go to the national finals? If your software doesn’t have a “block sender” function for these parents, send a “Reply to All” response to fund-raising emails that says you’ve adopted a sub-Saharan goatherd who helps you keep the affluent lifestyle of over-scheduled suburban brats in perspective.
Actual un-retouched photo of restaurant named “Sugar Shack.”
Messages from “The Something-or-Other” Don’t Mean Jack. Scroll down to the “t’s” in your in-box to find messages from phony-baloney organizations such as The Institute for Professional and Career Advancement and The Chambers List of Outstanding Assistant Compliance Officers, hold down the “shift” key and delete those suckers. Oh, wait–save any messages from “The Sugar Shack” with ”Half-price Bucket o’ Chicken Wings Night!” in the subject line.
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”