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The Tyranny of Email...

Yet another item on the long list of things I know damn well I should be doing, but can’t seem to force myself to do…

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a guy named Jeff Olsen suggested that I shift to checking my email three times a day, and leave my email client closed the rest of the time. He promised that it would give me a new ability to concentrate, that I would get more done in the course of the day, and be less stressed out. If memory serves, I think he also said something about it reversing male pattern baldness, but don’t quote me on that.

You know what? He was right. I made the switch, and after a couple days, I could see tangible results: I really WAS more able to concentrate. I really WAS getting more done each day. I really WAS less stressed out. And you know what else? I have a full head of hair to this day, so there must have been SOMETHING to that assertion about male pattern baldness!

However, after a week or so, I fell off the wagon. The lure of the little sound that Outlook makes when there’s something new under my pillow from the e-mail fairy was too strong. What if someone really needed to get ahold of me? What if there was an email waiting for me that was importatant? What if I would look BETTER with less hair?

The bottom line is that, even though I KNEW that it worked better for me, I couldn’t keep it up. I honestly don’t know why to this day. Maybe I’m email addicted. Maybe I LIKE being stressed out. Maybe I just couldn’t form the habit.

Critical Domain makes extensive use of MSN Messenger, so if anyone had anything that needed my immediate attention, they would contact me that way, so I really COULD switch to occasional email checking. In fact, I even tried recently. Again, new levels of productivity were the immediate result, and, once again, I fell off the wagon within days. (I’ll refrain from making another baldness joke. Woops! Too late!)

Why can’t I do this? I really want to– I know it is more efficient, and I know that I’ll be less stressed out. The illusion of needing to be constantly available via email is just too strong for me to ignore for some reason, so I just can’t seem to make it happen.

The thing that reminded me of this was an excellent article called “The Tyrrany of Email.” This is practically a 12 step program for people like me. Worth a read, and worth implementing in your life. You’ll get more done, be less stressed, and experience a surprising increase in your ability to concentrate. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll fall off the wagon in less than a week. (sigh)

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.