Tag Archives: self improvement

Damn the Email

Hi, My name is Jason, and I’m an email addict.

I work in an email driven culture. Though we have instant messaging, phone, and pager (yes pagers!) from a technology perspective, it seems most of our communication is through email. I receive anywhere between 100 and 300 emails a day. Not all of those are actionable or even interesting to me, but they still take time when they hit my inbox.

To try and curb my obsession with zero inbox, which is part of what led me to constantly monitor my email, I’ve challenged myself to keep my email reading down to under two hours of my work day. I now plan email “breaks” – 4, 1/2 hour, times during the day when I can check and respond to email. Otherwise I completely close my email apps and turn off auto notifications. Once those 4 blocks are done, my email-checking allowance for the day is done.

Besides reclaiming productive time, a side affect I am realizing from this is that I have been teaching the folks around me what to expect in terms of communication. In the past when I would answer email as soon as it came into my inbox, that became the expectation. When I didn’t answer instantly I would get an IM, phone call and then page within minutes of the email arriving in my inbox. Now folks are more patient in waiting for an answer, or will page or GASP! stop by my office if somethign is urgent.

As this becomes my standard work, I can tell the days when I let email get the best of me. At the end of those days I feel tense, have a headache and have a hard time focusing. But I feel that with continued effort I can bust the email addiction. Maybe someday eventually get down to under an hour a day? A person can dream!

In Just 5 Hours

Reading INC magazine online I saw an article on what they’ve termed the five hour rule. That is, you PLAN the time for deliberate and continuous learning, one hour per day each weekday. It’s a technique that was used by Ben Franklin and brought back to life by time management gurus such as Tim Ferriss. It’s a great way to be able to fit learning into your daily routine.

The article was timely as I’ve been trying to build a learning culture within the team. So far the reaction has been for folks to say “I wish I had an hour a day to to read/learn/take a class”. To this i say, sit down and really look at how you spend your time.  Can you cut down on the amount of TV you watch? Get up a bit earlier when the house is still quiet?

The key is to PLAN the time. It isn’t given, found, or made.

You will never FIND the time, something else will always find the blank spots in your schedule first.

You cannot MAKE time (but don’t you wish you could!).

But you CAN be deliberate and PLAN an hour a day, block off your schedule, and focus on bettering your life through continual learning.

Personally, I plan an hour a day to read or do some other form of learning either during my work day or in the evening.  I also plan 20 minutes each morning to pick up on industry buzz on one of the thousands of sites on healthcare and technology. And I promise I don’t have 27 hours per day! I just cut down on some things (television!) that I decided were not as important.

So here’s a challenge – for five hours each week, one hour per day, block off your calendar and use that time on focused learning, practicing a new skill or reading that book you keep hearing about (Can I suggest Disrupted by Dan Lyons?). Do this until it becomes second nature. Keep a journal of your successes and setbacks. In a few months look back at how much you have learned, and grown, and revel in your accomplishment!

http://www.inc.com/empact/why-constant-learners-all-embrace-the-5-hour-rule.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonselk/2013/04/15/habit-formation-the-21-day-myth/#3c29066d6fed collapse