Stress is ubiquitous and many people are struggling. This week I received an email from a man in a demanding job. He shared an unusual account of altering how he orients to his email. I think it is worth sharing his practices and worthy considering the larger issue of self-improvement.
There are two work patterns that tend to pull me down. First, every day at work, I receive a handful of emails that I don’t know how to handle. I have to puzzle them out, and often I have to reach out to someone else for help. But I resist this. The first time I read such an email, I often give it a cursory reading and go on, telling myself I’ll come back to it. When I avoid the work, I start to carry it as an invisible burden.
Second, I often don’t listen as well as I could. Every day, I face a strong temptation to tune out someone so I can “get things done.” Instead of paying attention to a meeting, I try to “multitask”; ironically, this practice ends up increasing my workload because I miss information, I have to ask others to repeat themselves, and in doing so I hurt the fine tendrils of connection. The bottom line is multitasking often increases my stress level because I’m doing something I know I shouldn’t.
This week I made two changes. First, I felt an impression to spend the extra five minutes to read the email, face the difficulty, and decide on a next step. This unnatural act has made a big difference. Second, my wife made a suggestion that made an even bigger difference. She suggested that I might start seeing my emails as people. I could consider the person behind each email. I tried this and I could feel my work take on greater meaning and purpose.
I find his personal changes interesting. What I find more interesting is his orientation to personal change. Instead to being a slave to his personal habits, this man is constantly examining himself and experimenting. He is continually inventing new best practices. In doing so he is slowly creating a more abundant life.
- Does email ever contribute to your stress level? Is it possible to experiment with new patterns of handling your email?
- Do you constantly seek to discover personal best practices, do you teach others to do the same and to share what they learn?
- What new best practice could increase the introduction of best practices by everyone?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?