One of my favourite genres of productivity discourse is how you write an email signature or an out of office reply. Do you fill it with links? Do you make a joke? Do you make yourself seem as unwelcome as possible? Do you, in fact, decide to do all three—and no, that’s not a challenge.
It’s a uniquely career/tech crossover for us to put so much thought into our email signatures. A couple of years ago, having struggled with what mine could look like I borrowed, with permission, the wording of a client of mine. I realized that part of why my friends and clients (let alone myself) were struggling with what Cal Newport calls the hyperactive hive mind—basically the need to reply back as quickly as possible to any request that shows up was that they didn’t have all that many reminders of what calm and care can look like in an email signature.
Speaking of, here’s the current iteration. I’ve omitted my phone number even if it is very easy to find on the internet.
If you are looking to book a meeting or interview with me, please follow this link. Please only book if we have spoken via phone or email beforehand. https://calendly.com/loeppkyfreelance
Please note that my usual office hours are 10-6 CST Monday to Friday and I will answer as soon as I am able. If you are receiving this email, please do not feel pressure to answer the email immediately, especially if it is coming to you outside of your regular work routine. Please respond in whatever way is most accessible to you.
So, within this sign off I want to draw your attention to a few things when it comes to cripping productivity. There are two links (three if you count my email address) but both answer questions that I regularly get: how do I book a meeting with you and where can I see more of your work? This saves both the reader and I a fair amount of energy sending emails. I’ve set boundaries—always a struggle—about when and how they can book in with me and I’ve ended with the most important part, the access statement.
An access statement, like a land acknowledgement, can take many different forms. They often are longer and more drawn out than this and I have committed to writing a full access statement on my website in the near future. However, let’s start with the hours. Now, I’m not going to call these hours a lie, but it’s not as if I am at my desk during these hours every single day. They are largely a reminder to me that I didn’t build my career around flexibility just to accidentally create a 9-5 for myself. This may be a bit too much in the weeds, but I have as many clients as there are time zones and so my time zone is in there as well. The joys of living in one of the only places that doesn’t change their clocks twice a year.
I will answer as soon as I am able is a really important distinction for me. It might seem pedantic, but as soon as I am able is different from as soon as I humanly possibly can. My version of able is a complex algorithm that I only understand 20% of the time. And that’s okay. The important part, assuming the recipient is actually reading this far, is that they know I haven’t left their email to die. The rest of the signature is, well and truly, about reminding people that I do not expect their immediate attention. There are other tools I can use—like putting timely in the subject line—if I really need to get something across. Also, if something is that urgent and it is accessible to both parties I am a telephone fan.
Lastly, “in whatever way is accessible to you” is vital through the lens of cripping productivity. I may say this in hundreds of newsletters during the lifespan of this project, but you cannot create access for others if you cannot create access for yourself. People, especially non-disabled or closeted disabled people, tend to need the reminder that with me, they don’t have to be neurotypical. They can answer in a voice note. I’ve done interviews via text message. It’s my job, especially in my work as a journalist, to figure out how to navigate that access friction rather than make it worse. Cripping productivity requires boundaries, but they aren’t commandments and we’re not in church.
Monday is a holiday and part of productivity is knowing when to rest. So…
I've decided to shift CRPL to a 5 times a week newsletter about productivity as I am fascinated by the topic, am in the early stage of writing a book about it, and want to have a place to think, and write, and create work about this vital area of thinking. Click below to join the daily newsletter and/or to help financially support this project.