Friday, March 02, 2007
A 'crackberry' intervention
I have a confession. I have an addiction -- to my Blackberry. It started innocently enough, checking and responding to e-mail in between tasks outside work, but soon, the little black machine controlled my life. Friends would be over. It would vibrate, and even though I knew it wasn't anything urgent, I HAD to check it. I couldn't relax. My mind was always at work. It was my crack. Soon, I was "using" while driving. I almost hit an empty school bus. A few months ago, I "bottomed out" at church. My "crackberry" went off during the sermon. My sweetie gave me "the look." Game over. The time had come for an intervention. The conversation was a blur, but I do remember he used the words "respect," "being in the moment" and "sledgehammer."
Recently, I've been thinking about e-mail and mental health. I decide to call time-management expert Peter "the Time Man" Turla (www.timeman.com) for advice. Peter says many people he advises complain that there is a lot of activity in their day and not a lot accomplished. He puts much of the blame on useless e-mail. He says many people use it as an escape. "It's like stomping on ants instead of going after elephants," says Peter. He has a number of great suggestions, which you can find on his Web site. Here are a few.
1) KEEP YOUR BUSINESS E-MAIL AS LEAN AS POSSIBLE -- Create folders for different topics. For example, if you are on a newsletter list, make a file for newsletters. Or if you have a colleague that overdoes it on the e-mail, make a file for messages from him or her. That way, you can look at them on your own time.
2) COLOR CODE INCOMING MAILS --Use specific colors for mails from certain people.
3) ESTABLISH REGULAR TIMES TO CHECK YOUR E-MAIL -- You might check it, for example, first thing when you get into the office and respond to the important ones, then check it every couple of hours for the rest of the day.
4) HAVE E-MAIL FREE FRIDAYS -- This isn't one of Peter's, but it's something we've started to do around our office. On Fridays you can send and respond to e-mails only if it's urgent. Otherwise, you should pick up the phone (what a novel idea!) or set your e-mail to "send" it on Monday. It's made a huge difference in my life.
E-mail isn't going away. But we can "manage" it, not have it "manage" us. I am curious - do you share my frustrations? What do you do? I look forward to reading your response, when I check my e-mail ... on Monday.
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