November 26, 2010
Yeah, I know, someone may be reading the title of this blog right now and thinking “oh great.. how to shuttle sheeple people around” after missing the description of what I was really going to share about.
Really, honestly, its not as much about managing other people as much as it is yourself.. a discipline to not be attracted to the email inbox, messages, etc.., like an alcoholic living next to a bar checking the door every 2 to 4 minutes 90 minutes before it opens to make sure nobody unlocked it when they weren’t looking because they can’t wait for that first drink of the day!
“But Colin,” you may be thinking, “Why would you, this guy who has made a living for over a decade in the world of tech geekology, be advocating that I cut the proverbial virtual communication umbilical cord??”
Well.. yes. When its honestly looked at, really how much of all that email you receive daily actually has any sort of intrinsic value towards what you’re currently working towards, is from family and requires immediate attention, or contains time sensitive information. When I started evaluating my own emails, very little of it actually fell into that criteria. Out of hundreds of emails I receive daily, less than roughly 5% overall met any sort of those criteria, and literally none of it had any urgency inside of a 6 to 8 business hour time frame. So really, when it was looked at, checking email once or twice per day was not only feasible but suddenly free’d up an amazing amount of time to spend working on other things, some of which derived from what was in the emails with answers turned around the following day!
The results I’ve had regarding this have been staggering. Consider this, I used to live with my email client open.. for over a decade I existed with live management of inbound emails. The results were that people had stellar replies with outrageous if not unrealistic expectations of nearly always receiving an immediate turn around of communications. While great customer service is second to none, the boundaries of when a person will be replied to need to be established, something which most every customer will accept and respect with little or no problems, because at some point you have to focus attentions on something other than client relations…. like getting new clients or customers, sleep, eating food, or even a vacation.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly weaning myself from the “check email first thing” methodology, though I keep with the routine I have for establishing my positive presence. I then set about other tasks to set myself up for a successful day. About 10AM I check email, first flushing irrelevant emails and notification’s from the inbox then I target the specific emails which I’ve identified as containing information needed or requiring a reply to move forward then finalize my plan of attach for the day. I check again in the later afternoon about 4-6pm for any follow ups which may be expected or notifications requiring action, then off to the races again. By 10pm I check one last time, flush out all notifications, and close my email.
I know, it looks like I still check it a LOT, but think about it.. I am slowly weaning myself from the concept of constantly being in contact with people to specific periods of time… changing the story and taking control of my life the way I want to live an changing these long time habits!