On the go? Answer emails with a phone call.

I read an article today about a new work related illness — Black Berry Thumb.

I could see this one coming. There are millions of people that are as obsessive compulsive as church rats when it comes to their emails. Six or seven years ago before mobile email, you hit the F5 (function 5) button fifty times a day to check your email. And for what?

People that carry Crackberry’s around and use them to immediately answer all comers write the worst replies, often cryptic and full of spelling and punctuation errors. And according to this article, they end up with an injury to boot.

Don’t get me wrong, you need to know when an important message is out there (on email, voice mail, etc.). I’m not saying to be out of touch. What you need to do is find balance and write mobile email communications as a last resort. You should only repsond to emails that need an immediate answer when you are in transit. The way I do this is simple; I treat my Crack Berry as read only. If I see an email that needs my immeidate attention, I call that person on my cell. First of all, it is way quicker, especially if the answer needs to have some sophistication (they all do).

In rare occassions (maybe 10% of the time), I can email back a word like “approved”. But most of the time I read and respond by phone.

Try this approach out next week and give your thumbs (and other people brains) a rest.

PS– You should also respond to emails with a phone call when someone is upset (poor service, misundertanding, etc.). It will surprise them that 30 seconds after they hit the send button you called them to deal with it. It will also help you communicate your intentions via your audible tone of voice.

What ever you do, don’t live like a rat in a cage on an endless thread.