Email Tyranny Revisited

A while back (on jrjBlog) I posted about a great article called “The Tyranny of Email.” The author has updated the article with a ton of new content based on user feedback, and even without that, it’s as fresh and relevant today as it was when he wrote it.

In the spirit of setting up the new productivity blog, I present to you the editorial equivilent of “code reuse:” here’s my old post… :)

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)



Good stuff.