Edinger’s Monthly Insights – February 2017


No One Has Ever Been Inspired By An Email

During the Q&A portion of a speech I delivered at a conference a few weeks ago, I had several people asking questions about email, including a manager who asked, “How can I motivate my team when we communicate mostly by email?” I shared my point of view with the audience: “I’ve never heard anyone say that they were inspired by an email.”

The uncomfortable laughter said it all. On some level, we recognize that email isn’t as effective as other ways of connecting with our colleagues, yet it is still our go-to for much of our communication these days: it’s fast, you don’t have to think too much about it, you can get a message out to many people simultaneously, you can compose an email any time of the day or night and get something off your mind and on to someone else’s. And email is useful when you’re communicating simple, straightforward things. But how many truly simple things are you and your team working on? Ask yourself that question and then consider the number of emails you send every day.

Managers who use email a lot may develop a false sense of efficiency while sacrificing effectiveness. If you are working to get better results through a team, motivate people to go above and beyond for you, address thorny issues, develop an innovative product, influence a decision, formulate a clear strategy, or create something of value, odds are it won’t happen on email. Executing complex goals requires that we use all the interpersonal skills in our toolbox, especially verbal communication.

Pick up the phone, walk down the hall to see someone face to face, or use Skype, FaceTime, or another teleconferencing application, to talk with your team members, board members, or customers. You may find you actually save time by speaking to others on your team in a small group or one-on-one settings. We tend to be serial multi-taskers, reading reports while listening in on a conference call, or covertly checking email while sitting in a large group meeting. But you can’t multi-task when you’re required to talk with someone and you’re focusing all your attention on the topic to be dealt with. Taking 5 or 10 minutes to really hone in on a subject can prevent misunderstandings, enable smart and speedy decision making, and increase connections with colleagues and clients.

An email has plenty of good utility, and I’m not suggesting you live without it. Though Cal Newport has an interesting take on this, which you can read here. Rather than relying on email as your default method of communication, why not try mixing it up with a variety of verbal options? You’ll keep your team on their toes and who knows? You might even inspire someone.

A Slice of Life Balance

It amazes me how quick we are to sacrifice quality sleep in an effort to do more.  It’s completely counterintuitive – sleep has a dramatic influence on your performance, and there are thousands of studies proving that sleeping more can help you achieve everything from faster 100m sprints, preventing weight gain, problem-solving, more accurate free-throws and innovation. Take a look at the science on this here and you’ll see it is unequivocal.

You don’t just need enough; you need the right kind of sleep. We experience two main sleep cycles every night: “slow-wave sleep” and “REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.” Slow-wave sleep is vital for the repair and renewal of your body, which is why top athletes aim for as much as 11-12 hours a night. REM sleep facilitates neural growth and cognitive development by organizing information and making connections between experiences.

8 hours a night (which we all know isn’t easy to get on a busy schedule) is recommended for good reason. Try it for a while and see if you experience a difference in your performance.

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