My Email Rules

Email consumes hours upon hours stealing opportunities to do real work. Several people have devised plans to reclaim this time, so I stole the ones that work for me.

These rules have two goals: to respect my time and that of the receiver.

1. Keep as short as possible.

“I’m sorry to write you a long letter, as I did not have time to write a short one.”

Mark Twain

Invest a little of time upfront to ensure the reader can spend as little time as possible dealing with your email. Re-read and edit harshly. Aim for FiveSentenc.es or FourSentenc.es or Three or Two.

2. Answer in batches.

Process emails at set times (9 am, 4 pm and 9 pm) leaving the rest of the day open for deep work. Many emails work themselves out before I get to them without my interference.

Turn off notifications. Email is not instant messenging. It’s meant to be asynchronous.

During this batch processing, collect all replies to the same person to be sent in one email. Use the iPad’s Split Screen with Drafts and Mail to collect all the responses in Drafts, then send from there.

3. Don’t send work emails on the weekend (or in the night).

Save your nights for sleeping and weekends for rejuvenating.

Plus sending email at odd hours might set the expectation you expect a response. If nights and weekends are the times you can go through email, Airmail (and other programs) have “Send later” features that let you compose at night and send in the morning.

4. Don’t expect immediate replies.

If you’re not responding immediately, don’t expect others to do the same.

5. Aim to close the loop.

Avoid emails volleys that bounce back and forth yet go nowhere.

  • → “let’s have coffee?”
  • “great, when are you free?”
  • → “how about 2?”
  • “no good, have a meeting. Three?”

Provide enough information so both the receiver and I can be done with the issue. Offer some options “Let’s have coffee. I’m free Monday at noon, Tuesday at 4 pm or Thursday at 10 am. If none of these work, call me and we’ll figure out a time.”

If more information is needed, don’t send a placeholder “I’ll get back to you with this info.” Postpone sending the email until I have the information to send.

If there are more than 5-6 back and forth messages, just call/message/slack the person.

6. Everything doesn’t automatically warrant a response.

Don’t jump on the “Congratulations” email chain when someone blast emails a group about a new promotion. And don’t feel guilty about not responding. Sending “Congrats!” is literally the least you could do. If you did any less, you’d be doing nothing. Congratulate them in person instead. That will be much more meaningful.

7. Reply to the minimum people necessary.

Don’t use reply-all unless it’s absolutely necessary. Eliminate any CC’s and BCC’s unless they’re needed. You’re doing them a favor.

8. Make the subject as informative as possible.

A subject of “FYI” means nothing, but “FYI: TPS reports you asked for, no response back needed” is much more informative. If I can fit the whole email in the subject line, even better: “SUBJECT: I’m free for coffee Monday at noon. See you there.”

9. Get rid of quotes

Unless these are needed for context, just delete the pages of nested quotes.

10. Minimize attachments

Don’t send graphics as signatures. Don’t send text in an attachment (Word) that could have easily been included in the body of the email.

11. The best email is the one not sent

Enough said on that one.

References

  1. http://five.sentenc.es
  2. http://www.emailcharter.org
  3. http://calnewport.com/books/deep-work/
My Email Rules

π day & RPN Calculator.app

March 14th, or π-day, this year takes on additional numerical significance. Only once in a hundred years we are able to celebrate π to its billionth decimal place.

3.141592653

3/14/15 9:26:53

I wonder if Galileo Galilei geeked out on 3/14/1592 6:53:59.

In other mathematically geeky news, while doing several calculations on my Mac I was longing for my old HP scientific calculator with reverse polish notation. Looking through the Mac app store at all the emulators, I decided to see if the built-in calculator app had this feature. And guess what it does.

calculator_app

In the View menu, you can select “RPN mode” and now you get a calculator with a stack visible 2 deep. I don’t know if this was possible in previous versions of OS X, but I love the geeks at Apple that made this happen.

Happy π-day. Now we wait for May the Fourth.

Gallery

Instructional Scaffolding in the Pre-Brief

  • students walked into the sim lab like wide-eyed deer in the headlights
    • their performance pretty much mirrored that analogy
    • did they learn anything just by being scared?
  • pre-briefs are defined as short sessions before the simulation
    • set expectations and roles (take this thing seriously)
    • familiarize students with equipment and debrief procedures
    • but teaching doesn’t usually happen here (or in the debrief for that matter)
  • simulation is often incorporated into the flipped classroom
    • watch a video (or read something) at home and then come to class to do simulation
  • we inserted a pre-brief using instructional scaffolding between the home module and the simulation session
    • students watch videos at home & complete a 1-page fill-in-the-blank worksheet
    • before simulation they learn their roles, expectations but also go through some mini-cases using that worksheet
    • then evaluated their performance on a checklist
    • their performance significantly improved on the checklist and their impressions of the sessions were better

Pulseless Arrest With Blanks

Outcomes

  • checklist
    • immediately (<10 seconds) started CPR upon determining patient is pulseless
    • initiated defibrillation upon observing a shockable rhythm
    • switched compressors every 2 minutes with brief (<10 seconds) pause in compressions
    • gave proper doses of vasopressors and anti-arrhythmic at the appropriate time
  • reflection
    • I feel confident in performing a resuscitation of a patient in pulseless arrest (strongly disagree…)
  • quiz
    • fill in the worksheet without a crutch
    • given scenarios, pick the next step
Gallery

Left Ventricular Assist Devices

lvad

Left Ventricular Assist Devices confused the heck out of me, so I thought I’d go through some of the anatomy and physiology of these things. Then everything seemed to make a bit more sense.

Anatomy and Physiology of the Heart… with an LVAD

I misspoke in this video. Dick Cheney did not have ‘destination therapy’ but ‘bridge-to-treatment’ therapy. He eventually got a heart transplant.

Pathophysiology of the Heart… with an LVAD

Please let me know if things don’t make sense, if they’re flat out wrong, or whatever you’d like.

Left Ventricular Assist Devices