Earlier today I sent an email to over 30 colleagues and had omitted to attach the attachments! Then came the flurry of phone calls and emails… “I think you forgot the attachments!” Some email apps do clever things and remind you if you have used the word “attached” but not attached any files. I’m usually quite careful and take a moment to check emails, posts, messages and tweets before zapping them out to others… Thinking about how to be more thorough – I came up with the mnemonic TRACKS to remind me to check:
Always check emails for typos. Autocorrect is very clever but sometimes gets it embarrasingly wrong – and it’s you that will be embarrassed. Take a moment to read over the email, post, tweet before you send it into the ether.
Think about who will read your post. If it’s an email use the To, CC and BCC carefully. If your email is to more than one person a good style is to use ‘To’ for the people from whom you expect action, CC is for information. BCC use carefully! Remember GDPR and dont share email addresses without permission.
Have you included all attachments referred to?Is there a better way to share the info – perhaps a link, or sharing to DROPBOX, TEAMS, SLACK or another collaboration tool?
If you refer to a meeting on Wednesday, have you also mentioned the time and venue… think ‘complete information’ – even if it’s repeated and was in an earlier communication?
Kind of Conversation
Emails should be kind! Also think of the kind of conversation. A letter, phone call or face to face talk might be a better approach for that difficult conversation.
The subject line is so important. How many emails do you delete on the basis of the subject line? Simply being there is a good start as many spam filters will make assumptions about emails without a subject. It should be clear and concise and relate to the actual subject matter rather than an earlier thread! It’s okay to change the Subject line when replying to an email if the subject has changed!
Before sending an email, post, message or tweet, think TRACKS – Typos, Recipients, Attachments, Complete, Kind, Subject – and then click SEND.
I write this on Doomsday! The 6th day of the 6th month! Sounds ominous! Actually quite fun! Did you know that the 4th day of the 4th month, the 6th day of the 6th month, the 8th day of the 8th month, the 10th day of the 10th month, and the 12th day of the 12th month always fall on the same day of the week?
- In 2020 these dates are all Saturdays.
- In 2019 they were Thursdays (we leaped over Friday)
- In 2021 they are all Sundays
- In 2022 they are Mondays
- get the idea… move forward a day each year – skip a day going into a leap year!
But what of February and all the odd numbered months?
In January, doomsday is the 3rd, or 4th in a leap year
In February – the last day of the month 28th/29th is always doomsday!
In March – following from Feb’s rule we can say that the 0th day is doomsday (or remember that 7,14,21,28 are always March’s doomsdays)
May & September are easily remembered together – the 9th of the 5th month, and 5th of the 9th always fall on Doomdsay!
July & November are remembered together as the 11th day of the 7th month and the 7th day of 11th month are always doomsday
Armed with this information it makes it easy to work out what day of the week any date falls on.
If you know which day of the week is doomsday for the current year and the next two years, and perhaps the previous year you will be well on your way to impressing others, and simplifying some routine tasks. If you are forward planning Sunday Services – you will know the dates without having to keep referring to the calendar!
You may notice some key dates are always doomsday! American Independence Day 4th July, Halloween 31st October. Perhaps a birthday or anniversary falls on doomsday! Any date not on a doomsday must be with 3 days of one. Christmas Day is always D-1, St Andrew’s Day is D+2.
If you want to know how to develop this to work out any date and tell people what day of the week they were born or which day the battle of Hastings took place you can learn more at: https://www.timeanddate.com/date/doomsday-rule.html
A wee video from a few years ago with Bryan Kerr and Donald McCorkindale in the context of the Church of Scotland General Assembly – about going paperless and making the most of electronic versions rather than printing off oddles of paper!
Yes you can scribble notes in the margins, stick in a post-it note! Yes, you can flick between several documents. Take time to become familiar with reading and using digital documents.
All Zoomed out! Lots of online meetings on various platforms filling our days. But the most important meeting is a low tech offline one!
Are you making time for a meeting with yourself? Have you put it in your calendar and blocked off time to review, plan and priorise your day?
Below is my ‘Agenda’ for Morning and Evening meeting with self – and God.
I’m a big fan of AYOA and have used it for years to keep track of my projects and tasks – it may work well for you – it’s very visual, actually quite fun, and integrates with mind-mapping. The important thing is to have a trusted system – somewhere beyond your head to capture and process all the things that you have to do
Meeting with self – Morning
Previous meeting notes
Matters arising – any loose threads..?
Correspondence (Incoming External stuff)
- Check Church of Scotland News
- Tue: Schedule half an hour to process emails/ Evernote Inbox
- Wed: Check Presbytery Website
- Thu: Check Ascend Website
Review AYOA/ To Do List
- Review Projects & Tasks
- Is there anything that anyone else is waiting for?
- Who is on my mind that I will phone or message today?
At least half an hour now or scheduled for later today.
- Watch/ Read a MindTools article
- Watch a TED Talk
- Sharpen a saw! Schedule time to hone a skill
- Listen to a podcast
Meeting with self – Evening
- What am I grateful for?
- How have I made a difference for others today?
- What 6 Things will I prioritise tomorrow?
- Time to pray
“We need a sense of ownership.” How often do we hear that – or say that.
BUT, We tend to own things that other people create!
Authorship is better – get everyone involved – all the stakeholders in from the beginning – have everyone involved in co-creating the project, plan whatever.
And when we set up an event, have it all planned and then invite neighbouring congregations and denominations don’t give yourself an ecumenical clap on the back – it’s maybe welcoming and friendly… but true ecumenical working gets together from the start!
Today 2nd June 2020 is World Mind Map Day! I’ve been an avid mind-mapper since the mid 1980s. During University studies which weren’t going too well, discovering mind-mapping transformed me from being on the brink of being ‘chucked out of Uni’ to turning in a piece of work to a lecturer who always said he marked out of 75% – and getting a 76%! It was a turning point in life! I completed the degree, and was able to help some other students to realise their greater potential too.
35 years on, I still mind map everything. Sermons, agendas, reports, shopping lists, brainstorms, decision making and so much more. It just works for me, it’s a brilliant thinking tool, mirroring the way the brain naturally works – making connections, linking ideas and keeping the big picture overview literally in mind.
www.tonybuzan.com is the go to place for all things mind mapping!
TED Talk: Hazel Wagner, explains mind mapping.
www.itsforministry.org began life back in 2001 when internet hosting was very much a geeky thing in its infancy! Over the years it had hosted various bits and pieces and been a place to share ideas about Technology, Leadership and Change in a ministry context. Recently in Lockdown it became a useful place to share ideas as I and colleagues navigated the learning curve of moving the Church more online.
Part of that learning curve caused me to experiment, try various settings… and Oh dear… I broke the site… and didn’t have a back up.
Important tech tip number 1! Back up your work regularly!
Happy to report that www.itsforministry.org is up and running again and is sharing links, hints and tips on IT, tech, leadership and change in a ministry context…
If you are in a different field you may find many of the ideas and tips transfer – as I have gleaned much from the world of business, industry and other areas of life…