Start your day by thinking about the day.
Start your day by thinking about the day.
Yes, I'm one of those guys who reads the instructions to the toys/technology I purchase and use. The may seem slight, but combined over a day, these kinds of speedkeys really, REALLY make it worth it!
PS: If you use Microsoft Outlook, ya GOTTA see http://www.OutlookDashboard.com !!!
Once you decide that sending an email is the most effective way to make a request for action, share information or delegate a part of a project, create a strong and complete subject line.
How many times have you received an email subject line that said something like:
Now, the tendency *most* people have is to look at that subject (maybe) open the email to see what's there, and then just ask quickly close the mail and then:
A. File it
B. Mark it Unread
C. Flag it for later action
(Did I miss an option? Let me know in the comment area below.)
The Subject line is the first and best opportunity we have to grab their attention. In fact, for an experiment consider writing the Subject line LAST over the next few dozen emails. Go ahead and write the Body of the email, complete with bullet points and/or attachments. Then read what you wrote with these questions in mind:
3. By When
4. Now What
Then, consider answering those questions in the subject line of the email. Something like:
There are just a few things we can do on "this side" of productivity to engage the recipient and get them to open, act on and follow up on the messages we send:
+ Sender: Who are we, in the larger scope of priority?
+ Priority level: Sure, we can mark things as High Priority. But, does it really make a difference?
+ Subject line: Are we asking them to Think, Do or File?
The Subject line is perhaps the most often overlooked element to sending an email that "just might" get someone's attention. It is the line that makes people decide whether they'll delete it immediately, save it for later, open it right away or file it away in some folder in their system.
Choose your subject (very) carefully. Experiment with this over the next few weeks, and see what happens. And, as you're processing the email people send to YOU, ask this question:
"Does the subject line make me want to read on?"
I took this picture in New York on a visit some time ago. I was at that store Anthropologie (Jodi loves it, we go in every time we walk by!) and I saw this great kitchen timer on a table.
As you know, a common theme to the work we do is to "Objectify Everything." O.E.
I am a strong believer in the power of a timer. You see, I can't argue with the clock. I remember a coach of mine telling me this on the track. We were training, it was mid-season, and we were doing some short, intense workouts. (twelve 1/4 mile repeats, on 1:30) If you haven't run 6-minute miles lately (and, let's be hones, who does THAT for fun???), you wouldn't know the challenge this present!
Now, let's leave the track, and head back to your office. Those emails in your inbox? That voice mail you saved? The papers on your desk? That to-do list you wrote down somewhere? How much time are they going to take?
Here's the opportunity: Write a list of the next 20 things you need to get done this week. Next to each on, leave room to write TWO numbers:
First: Write down about how long you think it will take.
Second: Time yourself, when you DO do it, and write down how long it actually took!
I double-dog dare you.
When I first "met" Benjamin Zander, back in October of 2000, I was sitting in the front row of a Learning conference put on by http://www.masie.com/. Sitting there, I took this photo:
Some 10 years later, almost, I have seen him two more times live, shared the stage at the same conference in Las Vegas, read the book he and his wife wrote (three times), and watched several of his videos online. In just a few minutes, you'll get a sense of who and how he is. With each interaction, I walk away knowing there is more...
If you have a few extra moments, here he is doing his magic for an audience at a TED Conference...
"Remember when you sent us those letters we wrote?"
This is what I heard at the Ojai Post Office just a few days ago. I turned around, and saw a young woman looking right at me...smiling. It took a moment, and a smile flashed on my face too. You see, we knew each other; she was in one of the classes I taught (at Nordhoff High School) many years ago! I'll admit, I had to ask her to remind me of her name, which she did (with another smile). Then, she told me her beautiful story...
When I was a teacher, I included the following activity during each term's final exam (I taught US History, World History, and Spanish Language). I passed out a couple of pieces of blank paper and a blank envelope, with this prompt up on the white-board:
Please write a letter to the future you. Give yourself advice, remind yourself of how things were, and tell your self what you think you might need to hear. When you're done, put the letter in the envelope, seal it, and put your address - the address you think will still be around - at least 10 years from now. I'll send it to you.
So, in the years since I moved on from teaching in the high school classroom, I've been sending dozens of letters each year...the same letters that the students wrote during the school years 1995-2000. This young woman looked me in the eye and told me about the day she had received her letter. What I'm sure could have been a much longer story (but there we were, at the counter of the post office!) almost brought me to tears.
She said that she read her letter, those words she had written. The whole letter was about a best friend of hers...a friend that had passed away, the summer she wrote the letter. She said she cried, as she remembered her friend, those times, and all that she had done since then. She said, "Thank you," and quietly turned away.
I walked away with many thoughts on my mind. Of course, I was wondering, "Was that a good idea? Would it have been better if she never had those memories come back?" I thought about the many students I worked for, the families I met along the way, and the promise I had made. What I'm sure of now is that there are a great number of students who are not thinking, "That Mr. Womack made a promise a decade ago, I wonder if..." No, instead, they're probably thinking - when they receive their handwritten letter - "I can't believe he remembered!"
This will be the last year of me mailing those letters back. (You see, I had asked the students to write down the day and year - ten years hence - they wanted me to post them. Not one student wrote down a year beyond the 10th one. So, those students who were in my classes in 2000...this is your year!) I haven't heard from too many of them...but in my heart I know I did what I said I would do.
I got home from a lunch with a mentor, and looked in my inbox on my desk to find a big yellow envelope. "Looks like a book," I thought, "but I got the last Amazon shipment last week."
Opening the envelope, there was a book I'd only heard about: The Tao of Leadership, by John Heider.
And, it came from a friend of mine in Southern California. (Thanks Dave!) I had no idea he had thought to send it to me, in our past few conversations he had not yet brought up that he was reading it.
I opened to a random page, and read for a few minutes. And, here is the line that jumped off the page:
(Page 85) "Few leaders realize how much how little will do."
In receiving this book, my friend is modeling the essence of this leadership tenet. There is no way he could know how just this morning I was journaling about my own areas of focus and the balance between how much and how little I could be doing.
Think about someone close to or important to you. Ask yourself this question:
How could I show up in their world in a positive way today?
Then, go do it!
Ok, Ojai... I'm working on a little project and I need some photos. Do you have a picture of a bird, in your yard or while you were out on a walk? Please let me know!
Blog posted here.
So, I'm at one of the most "tech-friendly" conferences in the US, and I'm facing an interesting couple of challenges. Most of the time, I can appreciate an acknowledge the "hidden messages" in life; and, today I have that opportunity.
1) Upon uninstalling an app on my BlackBerry this morning, the whole thing shut down. No email, no voicemail, can't see my calendar, can't make calls. Tomorrow, I have to drive 7 miles over to some AT&T distribution center to get my phone replaced. I "should" be back up by Monday.
2) Upon returning to my hotel room, I realized that I left my notebook (yeah, that one that I "always" have with me - just not right now!) somewhere in the Austin Convention Center. Of course, I'm going to check the lost and found...But I'm not too sure about that. There are thousands of people here this week, and you can't begin to imagine how many people I saw with black Moleskine journals...Just like mine!
So, time to rest, reboot, and reset for tomorrow...