The topic of Work Flow has come up quite a bit on professional boards. This past week FONS (Fons means "fountain" in Latin) founder, Eric Branner, asked what we all were planning for the weekend. Like most of us, he shared that his studio/office was a disaster. He had a load to take to goodwill, tools and instruments everywhere, and a ton of administrative work to handle. AND, he still had family responsibilities that included taking the kids to soccer and basketball. But the administrative needs were the most abundant and unpleasant for him and for everyone else on the board - including me.
Therefore I decided to track down the exact area of administrative work that was stopping my flow. To do this, I had to separate the work into divisions: bookkeeping, social media, lesson preparation, advertising/marketing, reviewing meeting minutes, clearing out old files, scheduling, reading emails, periodicals, articles, and memos, et cetera, and then break down each task to see what was getting the least attention or what was being avoided.
I found that the task that I avoid, and that takes most of my time, is required reading. Periodicals stack up, and company or professional organization emails give me the shivers. Dealing with them is unpleasant and can usurp my weekend. I love to read books, but reading through my business memos, emails, and professional periodicals seems to challenge me the most. But why? Why do I procrastinate in that area? And why can I fly through a book but find myself crawling through business readings? Then one of the answers became obvious as I was going through guitar center company posts on my feed: I don't like Initialism and it seems to be abundant.
When I did my graduate work in Arts Administration, our professors made it clear that the first time we mentioned a position, organization, function, or anything else in a memo, email, paper, or conversation - we should fully state the name with the initials that we would use as we continued. We were told it was good business etiquette to do this even within organizations where everyone may be familiar with the use of the initials.
As I read through the electronic posts, and the hard copies this past weekend, I had to keep stopping and researching initials. In many instances, I couldn't find what the initials stood for, online or, within the company sites. This was bringing the task to a pause more than I would have liked. It was frustrating, and searching for the meaning of the initials was very time consuming. (I have to admit that some of those emails and memos that didn't impact me directly went right into the trash.)
In today's business world using initials indicates to others that you are an insider. But as the use of initialism (and acronyms) continues to rise, using them (without them being defined when first presented) may deter your audience, or worse, confuse them.
Like everyone, I will still be confronted with initials that are not defined in company emails and professional articles. Knowing that initialism hinders my speed at task completion can help me decide which business readings get closure and which ones stay in the pile until the next weekend.
How do you feel about the use of initials, and new acronyms, when used without opening definitions? Do you flow easily with them, or do you feel that they cloud your ability to complete your required reading in a timely manner?