I have ES. Do you?

Co-worker: “How are you feeling today, Karen”

Karen: Good…you?

Co-worker: “I’m good, but I’m not so sure you are.”

Karen: huh? What are you talking about? (adjusting baseball hat, tightening pony tail, trying to look pretty) What’s up?

Co-worker: “I’m afraid to tell you this, but in my honest opinion, I think you are suffering from ES.”

Karen: I’m sorry…what did you say? You think I have…what? ES? What’s that?

Co-worker: Email Suffocation. It’s a serious condition that could lead to death by email.

Karen: Great. Thank you. Just what I wanted to hear early in the morning. Mazel Tov to me.

Yes, it’s true. I do suffer from ES. Fortunately, I am surrounded by people who care enough about me (ha) to diagnose me right before I open my laptop to sit down and attempt to quickly wade through my 200-300+ emails I receive daily. Kinda awkward.

Here’s my question to you: once you’ve been diagnosed…then what? Do you pretend you don’t have ES and carry on as usual? Do you hide your ES, email after everyone leaves the bakery or goes to sleep at home? Do you just ignore the emails??? Since I was just recently diagnosed, I don’t have any answers. What I do know, however, is that it’s time to fight back.

I was thinking about forming a support group. I just looked through my contact list and came up with a pretty hefty list of people who I’m guessing also suffer from ES. I created a group email list, started to type, and… hmmmmm. This might be a challenge.

I then wondered why my co-worker felt compelled to diagnose me in the first place. And then I realized, I opened up my own can of worms. Here’s why: I’ve been reading a lot about how to become a better manager, a better leader. One article I read over the weekend suggested that employee review happen both ways…it encouraged leaders to not just talk to the employee about his or her strengths/weaknesses/etc, but to ask for their take on you as a manager and as a leader. I cringed when I read that suggestion, because that could be precarious. I grappled with the thought of actually asking for feedback from my employees, and finally came to the conclusion that I essentially needed that feedback in order to continue striving to be the best leader possible.

Early on Monday morning, I gritted my teeth and asked for honest opinions. Without hesitation, the number one constructive critique I received was that I have poor time management skills, and that this, in turn, negatively impacts the efficiency of the bakery. The critique continued. I am easily distracted. I am too lenient. I am on my computer way too much.

Next came the suggestions: schedule three hours a day for computer work. Turn off the phone and just listen to the messages at the end of the day. Stop writing orders on sticky notes & create a custom order binder. Be a better communicator. I think at that point I may have inadvertently stopped listening. no offense; A girl can only handle so much before she needs a little space to digest.

Coffee consumed, digestion finished, Diet Coke chilling in the fridge, I realized that these critiques were spot on, and that change did need to happen, and it needed to start with me. I picked what I thought was the easiest task to first address…my emails. Two hours later, not that many emails filed away or responded to or deleted, out came the diagnosis…suffocation by email.

I am now on Day two of my diagnosis, and I have devised a plan of action to help. I unsubscribed from numerous websites. I weeded through the numerous blogs I follow and picked my top three to continue to come into my inbox. I rearranged the folders in my inbox to allow for easier/quicker access to important emails. My next goal is to NOT have my iphone on my nightstand, taunting me while I sleep, but that’s going to be a big one for me. babysteps… And to all of my fellow ES-stricken friends, here’s my message of the day: It’s time to take back control of our inboxes… Who’s with me?

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Owner, Baker,
& Storyteller

You know that friend who has it all together? Yeah. That’s not me. What I can offer you instead are my experiences, insights, and passions. Pithy observations about making cookies. Wry commentary on running a business. Loving (if slightly sarcastic) parenting advice. And if that doesn’t interest you, I have dogs. Cute ones.

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