If you're like a rising trend, you read email in the bathroom.Recent studies have suggested that nearly 59% of you (okay, us) read email in the bathroom.

That statistic has my brain running RAMPANT with jokes that I can’t even begin to share in a public space like this, and it’s easy to get silly.

It does, though, raise some very important questions about how we work today.

First of all, it says something about our addiction to our devices.

If we can’t even put them down when we’re, uh, otherwise occupied, then how much of our personal time is being taken over?

(I mean, let’s face it, is the latest missive from Carl in Accounting really that urgent?)

Besides that, it’s unhygienic, (When was the last time you sterilized your phone’s keyboard? Just asking…) and potentially expensive. (I’m actually curious as to what percentage of “my phone fell in the water” damage is actually washroom-related.)

My point?

Why do we feel such a need to be connected – 24/7 — that we can’t resist the pull of the screen, even for a few minutes?

It isn’t healthy, and the urge needs to be examined in order to regain some control over our screen fixations.

The other issue it raises is for those of us sending the email.

If people are multitasking like that, how carefully are they reading our messages?

I’m serious about this… if we don’t take the time to ensure our message is easily understood at a quick glance (which is probably all it’s getting under those circumstances), can we rely on our reader giving our hard work the attention it deserves?

And are they also multitasking while replying?

If so, are they giving US their best work at that time?

Here a few tips to help your readers prioritize your message and their responses:

  1. Have a clear subject line helps recipients focus on what you’re telling them right from the start.
  2. Write a clear first paragraph with your main subject in it allows your email to be easily understood by people who prefer scanning or previewing any received messages.
  3. Include a timeline for responses (such as “by the end of the day” or “no rush”) will decrease the likelihood of impatient or distracted responses.

If you would like some control over the amount and quality of email you send and receive each day, check out our NEW video course, Writing and Managing Email.

So, next time you read email in the bathroom, stop.

Ask yourself, “Can it wait?”

(The email, I mean, not the other thing!)



Wayne TurmelWayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. He works with organizations around the world to help people use technology to lead people and projects and build productive human connections in an increasingly remote and virtual work environment.

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