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Email is a burden. And many times I feel like a slave to my inbox. I’ve probably spent a few years of my life checking my email (and probably a year checking my email when there was nothing new there). It’s really easy to get overloaded. And many times it’s hard to initiate sending an email you know you should send, only because you already have so much to respond TO. Michael Fertik, the CEO at contends that there are four emails that you should always send. I agree, particularly as church leaders.  Here they are: keep reading

If you’re like most church leaders, you probably constantly struggle with a full email in-box. Some email is necessary, to be sure. But many times, it gets overwhelming. Too many people want a piece of your day… and email is the perfect way to demand at least a piece of your time and attention. But how long should it take you to reply to email? keep reading

DJ Chuang writes: All too often I hear people complain about how distracting social media is. That’s not a fair comment, because there are far greater distractions like interruptions of a phone call or a person that stops by your desk (office, or cubicle), and wouldn’t you know it, that happens right when you’re getting traction on your work. What social media might be doing is adding and compounding the issue of distractions and interruptions that derail us from productive work. The biggest time-waster at work is inefficient meetings (only 8% say that meetings are 100% productive). And depending on who you ask (or survey), the numbers may differ. This different survey puts more blame of time-wasting on the digital rather than the physical: … at companies with more than 1,000 employees, these kinds of digital distractions can waste more than $10 million each year. And in this social media-obsessed age, typical water cooler banter and pointless meetings are no longer the greatest time-wasters at work. Almost 60% of workplace distractions involve social networks, text messaging, IMs or email. In fact, navigating between multiple tabs and windows to keep an eye on a wide variety of apps is a huge distraction in itself. In the end, almost half of the employees in this study said they worked just 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted or distracted. More than half said they wasted at least one hour every day day due to distraction. That’s the data. Data doesn’t motivate nor inspire you to action, the kind of behavior modification and change in lifestyle you need to eliminate the distraction of social media. Social media doesn’t have to control you. You have to choose and decide to be in control of your time and your social media usage. Want some suggestions as to how to keep distractions at bay?  Read more from DJ here:  How to keep social media from being a distraction

The founding church of the Sovereign Grace ministries movement, Covenant Life Church, headed by Joshua Harris, has evidently asked it’s congregation to sever ties with the movement. Some of you may have been following the Sovereign Grace story over the past couple of years.  It’s an interested case study. I’ll admit, I have read some of the stuff… from both sides, and it really turns my stomach. Both sides have dug in and Covenant Life’s departure may be just the most recent casualty. I have no insider information, don’t know anyone inside the movement, and they are out of the circle I normally run with… so I’m looking at this from a total outsider’s viewpoint. My problem… at least in this situation… is that leaders on both sides have dug in their heels… insisting that they are right and the other party is wrong. That’s good.  There probably is a right and a wrong party here. But what has been  unfortunate is the pages and pages of documentation that has been released from both sides… hundreds, probably thousands of documents… timelines… email leaks… etc. trying to prove points. It’s really been maddening… unlike anything I’ve really ever seen in the church world. And I have no problem thinking there are great followers of Jesus on both sides of the issue. But at some point, it does no one any good to continue the bickering. Maybe that’s where Covenant Life is.  Maybe they’re tired of the fight.  Maybe their digging in their heels more by just leaving.  I don’t know… but it does make me sad, regardless. Case in point.  Full documentation.  Too much information?  Too public?  You decide. Are these public church fights EVER good for the church? What do you think? Todd

The Times of London has release text from a leaked memo from within the Church of England. (Learning here:  Nothing you write on paper or [especially] in an email is confidential) The Secretary General of the General Synod said the public and political fallout from the recent vote to not allow women bishops is “severe”:
“Parliament is impatient… Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it’s capable of sorting itself out, we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in Church-State relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence.”
More on the story: A former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, upped the ante when he called on church leaders to “rip up its rule book” and speed through the introduction of women bishops. He said it was “ridiculous” to assume that the General Synod could not reconsider women bishops until 2015. A full 42 of the 44 dioceses of the church voted for legislation that would have made women bishops next year. There are 3,600 ordained women in the Church of England and 37 female bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion, including Africa’s first Anglican woman bishop, Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland, who was consecrated five days before the defeat in Britain. // Read more here…

Lovett H. Weems, Jr. writes: It turns out that five seconds or less is all we need to realize we may have said something we will regret. Unfortunately, when we speak those words, we do not have an “undo send” button. We live with the consequences, sometimes forever. Peter Bregman cites a neuroscientist to explain what is going on in our brains when we react in ways we later regret. When something unsettling happens to us, the emotional response center of the brain immediately evokes emotion. That is not bad, except that emotion is not the source of our best decisions. There is something of a battle going on in the brain between the emotional and more rational. The solution offered by the neuroscientist is, “Take a breath. If you take a breath and delay your action, you give the prefrontal cortex time to control the emotional response.” No more than one or two seconds normally is sufficient. So whether communicating by email, texting, telephone, or in person, leaders keep in mind that every word carries with it the potential to build up or tear down, to enhance credibility or damage it. Leaders do not depend on a Gmail tool. They cultivate an internal “undo send” button that they use generously. // Read more here… How do you manage your live ‘filter’? Todd

We’ve all had it happen to us.  An irate email.  A nasty comment on our blog.  A Facebook message from someone who’s ticked.  It seems that the internet makes people much more bold when it comes to conflict… people say in emails and online things they wouldn’t ever have the guts to say to your face.  Here’s a helpful article by Toni Birdsong on how to handle online conflict.  I think it could really help the next time you raise the ire of someone. 10 ways to handle an online conflict:
  1. Evaluate objectively. Go back over the dialogue that lead up to the conflict and determine if you are responsible. Get another (objective) person’s opinion.
  2. Cool off before clicking. Rather than firing off a response, chill out and log off. Depending on the level of emotion, this may require a few hours or even a few days as a “cooling off” period. Read Romans 12:2.
  3. Ask forgiveness if needed. If you realize that you mispoke, relayed incorrect information, or responded inappropriately—you need to own it. Ask the person (if digitally possible) if they will forgive the offense.
  4. Maintain a “real” perspective. Match the worry to the relationship. Were you close to the person or were they a stranger prone to spar with anyone? Go read their feed/wall/blog to get a full picture. Cyberspace is huge and words are dangerous. If you angst over every person who disagrees with you, you won’t last long. Pray and determine if the issue is worthy to pursue, if not, let it go and move on. Read 2 Timothy 2:23-25.
  5. Don’t take it personally. Communicating online leaves a lot to be desired. If humans who talk face-to-face have conflict, you can bet that people writing brief posts will run into collassal confusion over written “intent.” It’s rarely about you and often about the deficit in the medium.
There are 5 more here… What’s the worst you’ve ever been attacked online?  What was the nastiest email you ever received? How did you respond to it?

Tim Sanders asks: What’s the most important meal of the day for your body? Breakfast, of course. Why? It establishes your metabolism and gives your brain fuel to operate well.  Just the same, if not moreso, breakfast is the most important meal for your mind too.  One braniac refers to the most important hour of your day: Hour One.  What you put into your mind during Hour One is critical. So what do you feed it? When you check your email, you graze on the random. Yet, many of my friends start out EVERY day by doing just that.  Think about the message that your Inbox (with 100 or more emails waiting to be answered) sends to your subconcious: “We are behind, overwhelmed, hurry!” Sure, it seems prudent to check email out of the gate when you wake up, but honestly, I think you are just being childish – and I don’t mean that in a bad way, either.  Children cannot delay gratification. They get up super early on Christmas just to open their presents. Give them a pile of candy and they’ll eat it all or get sick trying.  We are the same with email – can’t wait to see if something interesting came in! By the way, same goes for our social media rounds where we check on our Facebook, Twitter, etc. Again, when you do this, you cede control over Hour One to the outside world. Your breakfast is tantamount to drinking coffee out of a firehose and eating bagels as they fly out of a wood chipper. DO THIS INSTEAD: For the first 30-45 minutes of your days, read a book that helps you get better or more prepared for your career or purpose.  You read from books at a fraction of the speed you graze online – so think of it as a slow-and-easy way to start the day.  This will give your subconscious a different start-message: “We are growing, learning and getting better.” via Sanders Says    // What’s the first thing you do in the morning?  (OK… what’s the SECOND thing you do in the morning?) I’ll admit… checking my email is right up there. I’m going to try this and see if it works. QUESTION:  What morning routine works for you? Todd  

The percentage of emails opened on a mobile device has risen from just 4% in May 2009 to 20% in May 2011 while desktop client usage has declined by 11%. Webmail has shown the least change over two years, with a 4% decline. via Users abandoning desktop email clients for mobile, study reports – Mobile. Is this true for you? I have to say… it probably is for me.  I check my email all the time on my phone. Very rarely do I respond to email via my phone, unless: 1.  It’s urgent; or 2.  I will be away from my desktop/laptop for an extended period of time. How about you?  Do you rely more and more on your mobile device when it comes to email communication? Todd