Don't Let E-Mail Wreck Your Vacation

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Take Control of Your Inbox

Begin by taking a step back and evaluating how you use e-mail. Group your inbox by activities and target more efficient ways to accomplish those tasks. For example:

1. Probably the biggest productivity gain you can make is to avoid e-mail for file-sharing. Having multiple people comment on a draft creates version control. Instead, use fileshare software or a wiki so everyone can see the most current version and review the prior comments.

2. Put your project status reports in a wiki. That way everyone can have access, make comments, ask questions and feel involved. Collective intelligence and team action items are saved there.

3. Are people asking you the same question again and again? Create a blog about your area of expertise. Organize it on different topics and provide updates on the current projects there. This allows people to "self-serve" on areas of your expertise.

4. Do you e-mail a newsletter? Instead, make a blog or wiki. Just like a status report, you can get others to contribute to it directly.

5. This may sound tricky, but avoid e-mail for thank-you notes. Instead make your thank you's in a more public forum like LinkedIn, Twitter or your company's social software system. It's better for the employee's reputation management and can build loyalty from that individual.

6. Avoid "flame" e-mails altogether. In general, escalate issues using the phone, not e-mail. Have the courage to express more complex feelings or communications using a one-on-one discussion, which is typically less misunderstood and a better use of time.

7. Train people around you to follow these hints. That way you can help shape the team's responses and increase productivity for others.

The bottom line is that transparency in your work builds trust with your colleagues and partners. We probably don't even have much of a choice either anymore. That's the kind of impact that social software is having within the corporate world. Social computing is empowering knowledge workers to be much more in control of with whom they connect, collaborate and share expertise.

Building your personal brand online is a journey and not without a learning curve. Follow your company's social media guidelines to start developing online expertise using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and others.

Allowing others to "self-serve" on your blog and wikis for their own projects means no one has to wait on you to send a file or give an update. With your expertise accurately captured, this can also give you some peace of mind when you unplug and relax on your vacation this summer.

Why you should be the driver, but not the owner of business case ROI. Sponsored by CIO and IBM

Luis Suarez is a social software evangelist for IBM. IBM social software evangelist. Read more about his work here.

This story, "Don't Let E-Mail Wreck Your Vacation" was originally published by CIO.

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