Apple has brought together a helpful collection of some of the best apps for getting things done:
What I use:
- Keeping track of notes/ideas: Evernote
- Capturing quick notes when Evernote feels too cumbersome: Apple Notes (native on the iPhone and iPad — super easy to use)
- Calendar: iCal (native on the iPhone and iPad)
- Action and project lists: OmniFocus or Things
- Action lists, as a helpful supplement: Reminders (native on the iPhone and iPad)
And worth taking a closer look at:
- Things (I used this for a time)
- Remember the Milk
- Do it (Tomorrow): Looks interesting
- Calvetica Calendar: Looks intriguing
- PlainText: Looks as simple as Apple’s Notes app, with the added benefit that you can actually organize things
- MindNode: For mindmapping. Currently I use MindJet MindManager
Having pens you actually like to use makes all of your work go better. And even though we do so much digitally now, there is still a place for pens because some notes are best captured by hand and, beyond that, there are all sorts of occasions throughout the day when we need to physically write.
One of my pet peeves is pens that are annoying to use. Some pens skip a lot, while other pens leak out too much ink. So a few years ago I bought a bunch of different kinds of pens and compared them to find a pen that I actually like to use.
Here’s what I recommend: Uni-ball Vision Elite Stick Micro Point Roller Ball Pens, 3 Black Ink Pens. (You can also get them in a 24-pack.)
If you have these, there is no need for any other pen. They are awesome.
For more on why pens matter, the single most important rule in choosing pens, and the qualities of a good pen, see my post on Recommended Pens.
A good post by Scott Belsky at the 99%. The five types he discusses are:
- Reactionary work
- Planning work
- Procedural work
- Insecurity work
- Problem-solving work
“Which one thing, if I accomplished it, would result in the greatest number of all these other things that I also want to do also getting done as a result?”
This is the converse of yesterday’s post, where I made the point that you have to be OK with not doing everything and instead focus on what’s best next.
Here’s the irony: When you focus on what’s most important, you often get all the other stuff “thrown in.” This happens by virtue of the spillover effect. Doing the most important thing leads to positive ramifications that often accomplish the aims behind all those other things you weren’t able to do.
I’m not saying you will literally find that all the things you decided to leave undone are accomplished. Some of them will be. But more significantly, the point behind them will often be accomplished through the spillover effect.
But if you try to do everything directly, you often end up accomplishing nothing. (Or, almost nothing.)
The point is to do what’s best next, not everything that’s next.
And the reason for this is the simple fact that there will always be more to do than you possibly can do. It is simply impossible to do everything.
And, if you know what’s best, if you know what’s most important and what really counts, you will be OK with that.
Here are some notes I jotted down when I was working on the chapter in my book on mission statements. They are brief and scattered, but here they are in the event that they are helpful to you.
In my chapter, I go against a major problem in most books on productivity. Most of them talk about having a “mission” or “purpose” to your life, but they say “that’s a very personal thing, something for you to decide for yourself.”
I think that’s wrong. Pretty bad, in fact. The reason is that since we didn’t create ourselves, we cannot define our own purpose. God himself defined the purpose of life. What we need to do is identify the purpose he has defined, say it in a way that captures the unique angle on that he has placed in our life, and align ourselves around it. Or, better, align ourselves not first around our “purpose,” but the gospel, with our purpose directing us but the gospel empowering and defining us.
Interestingly, the Bible talks about the purpose of life a lot. You even see mission statements all over the place, especially in Paul.
Here are my brief, rough, notes:
Criteria any Potential Purpose Must Fulfill
Must create happiness. Flourishing. So when the Bible talks of “blessedness,” we are in this domain.
It must create a happiness that is eternal, not fleeting. And happiness that is great, in itself invincible, and that can endure through immense trial and difficulty.
What the Purpose of Life Is
Making God look good. Making “good reports” about him abound. Making joy in him abound.
But not just anything does this. Mercy is at the heart of it. And justice. And, you must really do it for his glory. Micah 6:8; Isaiah 1:18; 58:1-13; Mt 5:16
What This Does
You can fulfill it each day, and yet never fully complete it. There is always more.
It drives your actions, gives purpose, and cannot be exhausted or wear out.
That’s why we need to go beyond the common practice of distinguishing the urgent from the important to distinguishing the imperative from the important.
Don’t just think in terms of urgent vs. important. Think in terms of imperative vs. important.
Absolutely true. Amen.
Here’s the research:
One of the key points I am making in my book is that we should not simply do good when a need crosses our path, but that we should proactively make plans for doing good for others.
I bring together the various strands in the Scriptures that teach this, one of which is that evildoers are presented in Scripture as making plans for evil (Satan himself being the chief example — Ephesians 6:11 [note the word "schemes"]). If the wicked create plans for harm, how much more should those who follow the Lord create plans for good.
Here’s something interesting on that. Proverbs 24:9 says: “The devising of folly is sin.” In other words, not only is carrying out plans for harm sin, but the actual planning is itself sin.
Conversely, it stands to reason, then, that making plans for good is itself righteous and good. Carrying out plans that serve others is good, but so also is making those plans in the first place.
That should be an encouragement not only to take initiative and be proactive in devising good things we can do for people; it should also be an encouragement for those who have sought to do good things for others but been hindered in the execution.
Take heart that recognizing the opportunity to serve, along with the planning and intentions and forethought, were themselves good and pleasing to God — even if you weren’t able to execute and make them happen.
No. It’s only against planning done with a mindset that we are the final authority, rather than God:
The Bible Affirms Planning that is Done in Dependence on God: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
The Bible is Against Planning that Does Not Take God into Account: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. . . . Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)
Here’s how we can put it: The Bible is highly in favor of planning, and in fact commends and, it can be argued, commands planning.
But planning can be done in two ways: God-dependent and godless. And, godless planning is not what you might expect. It can seem innocent. But godless planning is any time you create plans without taking God into consideration — without acknowledging his authority over all things, and that heaven rules, not you. It calls this type of planning arrogant. And we can fall into it without even knowing it.
The Bible is pro-planning. But it is anti- what we might call arrogant planning.
And arrogant planning doesn’t mean necessarily being high-handed and in opposition to God. It can mean simply forgetting about him in making your plans.
Getting things done:
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4)
You need to do both. But things will not stay perfectly organized, and there will be times when they get almost totally out of hand.
That’s OK. The manger won’t always be clean, and it’s worth it.
Keep things as orderly as you can, and when they get out of control for a while, make sure to eventually take time to clear the decks.
You shouldn’t generally have to chose. But if you have to for a time, fruitfulness is more important than organization.
And, don’t begrudge the time you have to spend getting and keeping things organized. That’s a necessary part of things, which is the main point of the verse.
From Scott Belsky, in Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality:
- Improving your personal organizational habits
- Engaging a broader community
- Developing your leadership capability
Perspiration is the best form of differentiation, especially in the creative world. Work ethic alone can single-handedly give your ideas the boost that makes all the difference.
Unfortunately, perspiration is not glamorous. Endless late nights, multiple redrafts, and countless meetings consume the majority of your time — all with the intention of breathing life into your projects.
Passion for your work will also play an important role. Passion yields tolerance — tolerance for all of the frustration and hardship that come your way as you seek to make your ideas happen.
Now this is interesting, because I’m writing about this right now in my book: Creativity works best when channeled within the framework of a basic schedule.
In order to channel your ability to focus — and perspire — for extended periods of time, you will likely need to develop a consistent work schedule. Structuring time spent executing ideas is a best practice of admired creative leaders across industries.
It is the only way to keep up with the continuous stream of action steps and allocate sufficient time for deep thought.
A lot of productivity advice seems to focus on giving you tips to stay focused on and get motivated to do things you don’t want to do. I’m actually not into that sort of thing.
I think that if you are doing a lot of work where you have to “goad” yourself to get it done, you are probably in the wrong job. Plus, a lot of the detailed tactics for self-motivation don’t work long-term. It is far better to make procrastination a non-issue, which is what my first point gets at.
1. Love what you do
The best motivation is to love what you do. It’s far better to tackle the “problem” of motivation at the higher level so that you don’t even need to deal with the more detailed and specific motivational tactics.
The three components of motivation are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. If you find yourself needing to be motivated, rather than identifying tactics like “reward yourself after you get done with a hard task,” take a look at whether you believe in the purpose of your tasks (and, before that, actually know the purpose!), whether the tasks are too hard (or too easy), and whether you have the freedom to do them in your own way.
The best type of motivation is to want to do the things you have to do — to be pulled toward them by a desire to do them and make a difference and serve others — rather than to be pushed towards them through carrots and sticks (rewards and punishments). Intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic motivation every time. When you like your work, procrastination typically becomes a non-issue.
Now, at the same time, there will always be tasks now and then that we just find ourselves entirely dis-inclined to do. Maybe it’s even a task we ordinary love, but we are extremely tired that day and yet are on a deadline and need to get it done. Or maybe there are other factors interfering. In these cases, tactics can sometimes be useful. Here’s one I’ve found useful.
2. Take Breaks After Starting the Next Part of a Task, Rather Than In Between
When you take a break, don’t take your break at a natural stopping point. Instead, get to a natural stopping point, and then start into the next segment of the task. This gets you into it a bit and gets your wheels turning. Then take your break. While you are on your break, your mind will be inclined to get going again, since you’ve already started in to it. So it will be easier to come back from the break and avoid letting the break turn into an extended period of procrastination.
Martin Luther in 1516, before email:
“I would need almost two secretaries; I do almost nothing all day but write letters.” Luther and His Katie, 35
I would like to address decision-making in my book, as that is a key part of getting things done, but there isn’t space.
So, I’m posting here the four steps to making effective decisions that I would have developed a bit in the book. They are:
- Understand the objectives
- Consider the alternatives
- Consider risk
Very basic, to be sure. But it is surprising how often we go into important decisions haphazardly, without taking an intentional (albeit simple) approach.
Just a quick thought.
I do think it is valuable, in planning your day, to identify which tasks are “A” priorities for that day and which tasks are “B” or “C.” Prioritizing can be done wrong, but I think it is helpful in general.
Here’s a nice outcome of this: If you identify “A” and “B” tasks, then when you are done with your “A” tasks, the rest of the day has lower pressure. You can be more free to be interrupted because these tasks aren’t absolutely essential for the day (they are “B” priorities for that day), and yet it feels like you are getting ahead with whatever you do get done.
I don’t think it’s good to have your whole day consist simply of pre-defined tasks and appointments. But it’s hard to get around the need for some sort of list. This helps you keep that list from becoming a tyrant rather than a tool and servant.
Very well said by David Allen in his latest newsletter:
Processing your inbox is your work. It’s not something extra you have to do, or some distraction that doesn’t belong in your life…unless of course you feel the same way about your physical mailbox. Like it or not, dealing with all your email is as much a part of your work (and required to do your job as well as you can) as keeping lists, clearing your head, or doing regular reviews. Yet consistently, we come across a resistance people have to driving their inboxes down to zero on a regular basis—as if that’s a luxury reserved for those who don’t get much input or don’t have anything better to do. It’s a critical component for keeping you in a clear, current and creative space to work and play at your best.
This is a helpful post by Tim Challies on how he gets things done. He talks about the hardware and software he uses, and then his basic workflow approach. I especially like the example of his daily task list.
He also has another post worth reading that gives more detail on applications that make his life easier.
Great thoughts by Doug Wilson.
Here are the seven points:
- The point is fruitfulness, not efficiency. [Comment: This point is especially excellent. Very often, the question for optimal efficiency backfires and is actually less efficient. It's this way in management as well: seek effectiveness, and efficiency often follows. Seek efficiency, and you'll probably lose both.]
- Build a fence around your life, and keep that fence tended.
- Perfectionism paralyzes.
- Fill in the corners.
- Take in more than you give out.
- Use and reuse.
John Piper Interviews Rick Warren on Doctrine — And Thoughts on the Significance of Their Relationship
The video of John Piper interviewing Rick Warren is now online. Here’s some of what John Piper had to say about it at the Desiring God blog:
The nature of the interview is mainly doctrinal. I read Rick’s The Purpose Driven Life with great care. I brought 20 pages of quotes and questions to the interview. You will hear me quote the book dozens of times. With these quotes as a starting point I dig into Rick’s mind and heart on all the issues listed below (with the times that they begin on the video).
My aim in this interview is to bring out and clarify what Rick Warren believes about these biblical doctrines. In doing this my hope is that the thousands of pastors and lay people who look to Rick for inspiration and wisdom will see the profound place that doctrine has in his mind and heart.
I had the privilege of being there when the video was shot out at Saddleback earlier this month. I was very impressed with Rick Warren’s answers. I think Piper is right: Doctrine plays a large role in Warren’s mind and heart, and he is doctrinally solid. Piper asked him about everything from repentance to the sovereignty of God to election to the gospel to total depravity to hell. Warren gave clear and thorough and biblical answers to all of Piper’s questions — answers that we would agree with here at Desiring God.
The one place he was a bit sketchy was on the new heavens and new earth, but I think that’s just because Piper’s question there may not have been clear and he wasn’t sure what was being asked.
Obviously, there has been a lot of controversy over Piper inviting Warren to the Desiring God National Conference last fall. One of the main reasons is that Warren’s methodology doesn’t seem to be doctrinal at all, but rather pragmatic. Here’s what Piper had to say about that in the post introducing the video:
Rick is not known for being a doctrinal preacher. One reason for this is his intention to be theologically sound and practically helpful without using doctrinal or theological terms in his public ministry. Inside of Saddleback there is a greater intentionality about building biblical and theological categories into the people’s minds and hearts.
Near the end of the interview, with great respect and appreciation for the stewardship of influence that Rick carries, I exhort him and pray for him that God will make the final chapter of his ministry a deepening one, that leaves a legacy of biblical and doctrinal truth more explicitly and firmly in the minds and hearts of the generations that will follow him.
Piper’s exhortation here is excellent, and points to, I think, the broader importance of Piper and Warren’s relationship. I would argue that not only do Warren and Saddleback perhaps have something to learn from Piper, but that Piper and our church have something to learn from Warren as well.
Here’s what I mean.
As Piper shows in the interview, there is a solid doctrinal foundation underneath Warren’s ministry. But, as Piper exhorts him at the end and summarizes in that quote above, he can perhaps do a better job in making this explicit and fleshing it out. The practical emphasis of Warren’s ministry, in fact, would be even better served by making the doctrinal foundations more explicit, because doctrine is the foundation of practice. (Piper shows very effectively how this works in his biography of William Wilberforce. Briefly, the connection is that doctrine fuels the joy that drives practice.)
This provides a wider lessen, perhaps, to all those in the evangelical church who care deeply about the practical while giving less emphasis to the theological. The message that doctrine grounds and fuels effective practice says: your emphasis on the practical is a great thing, and you don’t need to become less action-oriented; rather, let yourselves become more action-oriented by kindling a love for doctrine and allowing that doctrine to have its joyful, action-producing effect in your lives and churches.
(If I can, I will post a message I gave here last fall at a Desiring God staff devotional that talks about how this works out in more detail; the message is called “Why Sound Doctrine Grounds and Leads to Effective Action: What Rick Warren Should Have Said at the Desiring God Conference.” The title, by the way, is not a critique of Warren’s message — I found it very helpful; what I try to do in the message is show in more detail exactly how and why doctrine leads to practice, and the biblical texts that show this to be the case.)
So that’s what I think Warren and the highly practical and leadership-oriented segment of the evangelical church can perhaps learn from Piper.
Now, on the other side, I think that Piper, our church, and the more doctrinally-oriented segment of evangelicalism could learn something from Warren’s emphasis on the practical, and from the importance he gives to biblical leadership. I think the mistake we make is that sometimes we focus on the doctrinal to the expense of the practical. It’s not that we reject practice or don’t care about it — we do. But sometimes we don’t place as much importance on, for example, learning how to do it well. We can neglect learning about things like leadership and organizational effectiveness and other such things, and I think this hinders the growth of our people and fails to serve them as well as we perhaps could.
So to this segment of the evangelical church, I think people like Warren show us that we need to pay greater attention to letting these doctrines have their ultimate ends in the service of others and the glory of God. We don’t need to be less doctrinal. No way. But perhaps we need to be intentional in learning about the practical. And with the doctrinal foundations we already have in place, the practical side will be all the more effective because it will be built on top of a solid theological foundation. This, further, will serve doctrine because when people and organizations are well led and organized, more people will hear and come to the greater joy in God that comes from understanding the theology of the Bible in a deeper way.
In one sense, it is the purpose of this blog to bring both of these goals together by equipping Christians theologically and practically. Or, another way to put it is that the purpose of this blog is to equip Christians in good works. And to be effective in good works, we need to understand both the theological and practical dimensions of life.
That’s why I blog on things from how to set up your desk to why we should be creative and competent in fighting global poverty to the six things Christ accomplished by his death. Productivity and leadership are really about good works. As Christians, we are to abound and excel in good works (1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 2:10), and to do this best we need to grow in our knowledge and understanding of how to be effective in all areas of life (including the mundane things like setting up your desk), and we need to do this on a solid, exciting, worship-fueling theological foundation.
The main point here is that we don’t have to choose between deep thinking and effective practical action. Instead, they drive one another: thinking hard about truth motivates and directs wise, effective practical action for good. We should think theologically about the practical for the sake of love. The Piper-Warren interview models this well, and gives both the more practically oriented and the more doctrinally oriented something to think about.
One final thought on the video: The best part of the video is the very end, where Warren talks about stewarding the influence that God has given him. His humility and concern for God’s glory and the good of God’s people really shines through at that point, in my view. If you don’t watch any other part of the video, I’d make sure to watch that. This section starts at 1:28:10.
Here’s the breakdown of the rest of the topics in the video and where they begin:
3:29 The glory of God.
7:16 David Wells and the weight of God’s reality.
9:00 Would you write the book the same today?
12:00 The sovereignty of God.
18:47 How do you speak of God’s sovereignty in the presence of tragedy?
22:01 How do all things work for bad for those who reject Christ?
24:14 Do you hedge on Larry King?
27:00 Unconditional election.
30:18 The importance of eternity.
34:42 How do you conceive of eternity: in heaven, on earth?
38:53 What is the Gospel?
42:00 What did Jesus achieve on the cross?
50:50 Why don’t you call yourself a Calvinist?
54:39 Prevenient grace.
1:00:01 Total depravity.
1:09:10 Eternal destiny of those who never heard.
1:12:40 The extent of the atonement.
1:17:00 Do unbelievers always do the devil’s bidding?
1:18:40 Your view of the Bible.
1:22:40 Expository preaching and doctrinal depth.
1:28:10 Rick Warren’s sacred trust.
Recently I’ve been thinking a bit more about Edwards teaching on heavenly rewards.
Briefly, Edwards teaches, as the Bible seems to (Luke 19:13-19; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Ephesians 6:8), that there are degrees of rewards in the new heavens and new earth. But this will not be the cause of any unhappiness, for it doesn’t mean that those with less reward will be only two-thirds happy, while those with more reward will be fully happy.
Instead, everyone’s cup will be full; it’s just that not everyone will have the same size of cup. In this way, there can be greater degrees of happiness, while at the same time everyone is fully happy. There can be greater and lesser joy without implying that there is any sadness or dissatisfaction that goes along with the lesser degrees of joy.
Here’s how Edwards put it, using the analogy of a ship:
It will be no damp to the happiness of those who have lower degrees of happiness and glory, that there are others advanced in glory above them: for all shall be perfectly happy, every one shall be perfectly satisfied. Every vessel that is cast into this ocean of happiness is full, though there are some vessels far larger than others; and there shall be no such thing as envy in heaven, but perfect love shall reign throughout the whole society.
In fact, Edwards argues that degrees of happiness will actually increase everyone’s happiness, because everyone’s happiness is interconnected. In other words, when one person sees another person with a greater degree of happiness, because of their perfect love for others, the person with the lower degree of happiness will rejoice at the fact that his brother or sister in Christ has a higher degree of happiness. This principle from 1 Corinthians 12:22: “When one member is honored, they all rejoice.”
Here’s how Edwards puts it:
Those who are not so high in glory as others, will not envy those that are higher, but they will have so great, and strong, and pure love to them, that they will rejoice in their superior happiness; their love to them will be such that they will rejoice that they are happier than themselves; so that instead of having a damp to their own happiness, it will add to it…
I love Edwards’ teaching here and find it beautiful.
Now, there is also one thing I would add to it: Not only will everyone’s cup be “full” with greater and lesser degrees of happiness, but everyone will also be as happy as they want to be. In other words, someone with a smaller “cup” will feel that the size of their cup is just the right size for them. They won’t “want” a larger cup at that moment, but will see that they are actually happier (more satisfied) with less of a cup at that point than a larger cup.
I think Edwards would agree, because this actually seems to be an implication of what Edwards is saying. For if everyone’s cup is full, that implies zero discontent. Which, conversely, implies a preference for whatever level of happiness it is that you have.
Along with this — and Edwards also points this out — our happiness in the next world will not be static, but ever increasing. So if you start out with half the capacity for happiness as Martin Luther or Edwards himself, you aren’t going to stay that way but will continually grow in your capacity for happiness — forever.
One last thing here, which is an interesting connection with productivity. As I’ve talked about before, when we talk about being productivity, what we are really talking about is the doing of good works — the works which God created us in Christ to do, and which he prepared beforehand for us (Ephesians 2:10).
Understanding helpful productivity practices and tools, in other words, enables us to amplify our effectiveness in good works. And thus, perhaps, it helps us to in some sense lay up greater heavenly reward. (Which, of course, Edwards would also approve of, as his twenty-second resolution was “to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.” Wisely utilizing effective productivity practices would certainly fall within Edward’s aim here of using whatever might and vigor he can to lay up greater joy in heaven.)
Now, we need to be careful here, because I don’t want to imply that those with greater access to technology, for example, will have greater reward in heaven simply because they were born in a country where they could access these things. The Bible also talks about how “to whom much is given, much shall be required,” and that might be part of the solution — since we have been given much, if we don’t use these practices and opportunities to do more good, we are failing to be faithful with what God has given us; likewise, those without access to them (right now) are held to a different standard.
But I don’t think we should primarily cast this in the light of “you better do this, or else,” because I don’t think the Bible does (and, that’s not very motivating). Instead, the primary emphasis I think the Scriptures reveal to us is: “What a great opportunity we have here. God has blessed us with great knowledge and many technological tools that can increase our productivity, and as a result we can have the joy and privilege of doing more good for others and his glory than we otherwise might have been able to.”
The ability of productivity practices and tools to amplify our efforts in doing good is a wonderful and amazing thing, and is to be utilized to the full. And, perhaps, there is a connection here with laying up greater rewards in heaven.
Warming up your day by knocking off a bunch of quick, easy tasks is tempting, but it can provide you with a false sense of accomplishment.
The danger in this approach is that the bulk of your energy gets depleted over a bunch of insignificant tasks. First there’s email, then a couple of phone calls, then a meeting, then huddles with some direct reports and a quick sign-off on a project budget — then, guess what? It’s time for lunch!
To warm up after lunch, you start off with another round of email, then a client eats up your mid afternoon, and suddenly it’s 5 pm — and you never got around to, much less finished, the grant proposal — your day’s one-step-from-the-revenue-line priority. In fact, you can’t even remember what you did get done.
Solution: You must retrain yourself to choose the important over the quick, the tough over the easy, no matter how intimidating the project may be. Starting too far from the revenue line prevents you from producing the volume of revenue-generating work that your company actually relies on and pays you for.
Working from the bottom up puts you in a risky position — when that inevitable crisis appears, . . . how can you possibly handle it when you haven’t even gotten to your most important assignment yet!
Completely two or three tasks that directly make or save your company money far outweighs finishing twenty things that are three steps from the revenue line.
A good article on the emotional intelligence of email at the 99% by Scott McDowell. Here’s the first part:
Earlier this year I attended a presentation with Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence and godfather of the field of Emotional Intelligence. According to Goleman, there’s a negativity bias to email – at the neural level.
In other words, if an email’s content is neutral, we assume the tone is negative. In face-to-face conversation, the subject matter and its emotional content is enhanced by tone of voice, facial expressions, and nonverbal cues. Not so with digital communication.
Technology creates a vacuum that we humans fill with negative emotions by default, and digital emotions can escalate quickly (see: flame wars). The barrage of email can certainly fan the flames. In an effort to be productive and succinct, our communication may be perceived as clipped, sarcastic, or rude. Imagine the repercussions for creative collaboration.
He goes on to give six tips for making sure your email messages communicate the right tone.