Tame your inbox

Our inboxes seem to rule our business lives. They are also a source of perpetual stress. But Cal Newport doesn’t think it has to be that way. In Episode 233 of his Deep Life podcast, Newport details three ways to tame your tyrannical inbox.

  1. Write emails with more detail and clarity. Be specific about what your expectations are for a suitable response. Also, make it clear who the email is directed to and who needs to respond. This requires more initial effort on your part, but saves a lot a back-and-forth.
  2. Have a real conversation. Pick up the phone or walk over to your colleague’s desk to talk through the issue. Email is great for simple messages that aren’t urgent, but complex discussions require a real conversation.
  3. Set up processes or checklists for repetitive activities. Cloud-based services like Slack, Teams, and Asana allow shared documents with repeatable tasks that can be assigned to specific people. This allows asynchronous work without trading emails.

Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode where you will hear a more nuanced discussion with some listener questions about email. Also, check out Newport’s book, A World Without Email (Amazon affiliate link). Don’t be put off by the title, Cal is very realistic…he knows that we can’t get rid of email.

The problem isn’t the email. The problem is we aren’t using email well.


ABI Decline Moderates Slightly in December

The Architecture Billings Index was down again in December 2022 with a reading of 47.5. This is up from November meaning that fewer firms saw a decline in billings. New Design Contracts also saw a moderation of the decline to 49.4 (anything below 50 is a contraction).

The discussion this month focuses on delayed/cancelled projects, industry employment trends, and consumer confidence.

December: 47.5, November: 46.6, October: 47.7, September: 51.7, August: 53.3, July: 51.0

ABI December 2022: Architecture firm billings end the year on a soft note

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Firm Owners Need Business Knowledge

The Architect’s Newspaper interviewed the founders of SO-IL about their controversial job posting and resulting social media firestorm. It is pretty clear that SO-IL firm leadership doesn’t understand how to run a business. 

Before going out on your own, make sure you get experience with the finances of an architectural firm. Architectural firms are businesses and profit matters if you want an ongoing practice. Know your numbers. It is amazing how many architects don’t pay attention to the numbers.

And if you run a firm, make sure you are helping educate the next generation of firm owners by sharing the numbers! Transparency helps people learn, but it also builds confidence in leadership when everyone understands the economic forces acting on the firm.

AN speaks with SO – IL about its controversial job posting and wider structural issues in the profession

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Evolving Local Sustainability Policies

Cities and towns are adopting more stringent green policies. Construction Dive looks at some of the trends, which are shifting from sustainable operations toward reducing emissions during the manufacturing and construction process.

How green building policy could evolve in 2023

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Balance Local Culture and Universal Construction Techniques

Standardized materials and methods of construction can lead to a homogenous built environment. We need to keep local cultures and heritage intact. This is the essence of design - how can we build for a specific people while being efficient users of resources?

Glocalization: The Most Widespread Architectural Trend You’ve Never Heard Of

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An Update on The Tilting Millennium Tower

Engineering feats like this are fascinating. While we shouldn’t overlook the troubled process that led the project to this point, reading about the solution (and understanding what is involved) is very interesting.

First Load Transfer a Success at Troubled Millennium Tower in San Francisco