You've Cott Mail is taking the next few days off for the holiday (Memorial Day weekend, for those of you not in the U.S.) and will return next Tuesday.


Speaking of taking a break....


Commentary: Dancing on the edge of 'finished'

Seth Godin, on his blog, 5/23/12

Before, when your shift was done, you were finished. When the inbox was empty, when the forms were processed, you could stop. Now, of course, there's always one more tweet to make, one more bit of email, one more comment you can respond to. If you want to, you can be never finished. And that's the dance. Facing a sea of infinity, it's easy to despair, sure that you will never reach dry land, never have the sense of accomplishment of saying, "I'm done." At the same time, to be finished, done, complete -- this is a bit like being dead. The silence and the feeling that maybe that's all. For the marketer, the freelancer and the entrepreneur, the challenge is to level set, to be comfortable with the undone, with the cycle of never-ending. We were trained to finish our homework, our peas and our chores. Today, we're never finished, and that's okay. It's a dance, not an endless grind.


Study: Email 'vacations' boost job productivity, lower stress

Maureen Salamon, HealthDay, 5/11/12

Email vacations while on the job could benefit people's health, reducing stress levels and contributing to better focus, a new study suggests. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and the U.S. Army found that a group of workers who were cut off from office email use for five days experienced more natural, variable heart rates and switched between computer windows only half as much. Study co-author Gloria Mark said the findings could help boost productivity in offices that choose to implement these email vacations, either by controlling email login times, batching messages or through other strategies. "We were surprised by the results, because they didn't have to turn out this way. It's possible that people might have been even more stressed not to have email, to feel like they were missing out on something, so we didn't expect that people would become significantly less stressed." "While the study focused on really got at some important issues such as multitasking, focus and being present at what we do on a day-to-day basis," said David Ballard, head of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. "It really highlights the importance of people not trying to do so many things at one time and being present at what they do." 


Commentary: Over-managing employees adds to unnecessary stress

Peter Sioen, Client Centred Coaching blog, 5/16/12

When I go to the theatre, how much management has been going on backstage and upstairs and how is that reflected in my ticket price? Many organisations have too many managers. State-run companies and not-for-profit organisations don't just ditch people. They keep talented people in-house and continue to make good use of their experience and talents. But something doesn't add up. Correction: It does add up but to a very high number, and that's a problem. Managers manage. That's their job. You can't tell your managers not to. You can't cancel their initiatives all the time, you can't ask them to do less or slow down. But spare a thought for those poor employees who have to undergo [a] barrage of management ideas. Rarely do they ask for it, too often they are not behind it. It interferes with their work and how they do it. That actually raises their stress levels. The correlation between decision autonomy or job control and stress levels has been demonstrated scientifically many times over, for instance by the Whitehall studies. Over managing takes control away from those who execute and are experts in their tasks. True, those subordinates don't see the bigger picture; they should realise that and show a lot of patience. But that patience needn't be tested unnecessarily


Commentary: Does social media stress you out? New app says "Take a Break"

Ann Michaels, Social Media Management, 5/18/12

Familiar with the Kit Kat Jingle? "Gimme a break, gimme a break. Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar." Kit Kat [is] offering a Social Break app designed for the overly stressed crowd who feels that they need to keep up with their social networking sites, but just need a break from it all. Keeping up with social media, especially for the younger crowd, can be time-consuming and just plain stressful. So, how does this work? Users can set it up to automatically post on the bigger social networking sites -- Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn -- with automatically-generated responses when someone tags you in a photo, comments on your wall, or shares a story on LinkedIn. This way, you can still interact with friends and colleagues while walking away from it all. I realize this is a tongue-in-cheek app and meant not so seriously, but honestly, I think if we're getting to a point where we need to automatically reply to people just to keep up, especially with canned responses, is it too much? I know that personally there are times when I turn off the computer and phone just to get away from it for a day or two, but I really don't think my silence is causing my friends and family to panic. I'm sure they may (or may not) notice my silence, but it's not going to cause a widespread panic or change their view of me if I'm not responding right away. I do wonder if at some point in the future people will go into social media overload, if they haven't already.

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