My Email Problem

I hate email…

There I said it.

I find email to be the biggest offender of any productivity killer out there. Maybe I’m not ‘too social’ as Facebook and Twitter are not continues distractions for me, the TV stays off and short of some background music and few trips to the fridge, I consider myself pretty good at sitting down, focusing and getting a task done.

The Bain of my Existence

However the bane of existence is my inbox, I hate it with all my being. Simply knowing it’s there is a distraction in and of itself. How do I know if there is not an important message waiting, maybe there is urgent matter I need to turn my attention to… How do I know… without checking it? So I check it and I check it again 2 minutes later and I check it 10 minutes after that, then I notice that the new message indicator is on so now I really have to check it. When I do open my email client I typically find some irrelevant marketing message or a note that certainly could have waited another hour, even a few hours would not have been a big deal. So I settle back into my task… wait – I should probably check email. Shit! I did it again.

Every once and while I convince myself that that is no fire waiting for me and I can leave my mail client alone for an hour while I get something done. But without fail…

Ring ring goes the phone.

Hello”, I say.

The caller responds, “Hey this is xxxx, did you get my email?

(deep breath), “no I have not seen it yet, when did you send it?

Oh I just sent it… let me know if you got it

Yep I got it, it just came in

Great! What do you think?

Umm I haven’t read it

Oh ok, go ahead, then lets go over it

Boom… all productivity killed!

Checking email is like a bad scab that I constantly pick at. For some reason the urge is there but nothing good can really come of it.

I get that email is still the primary business communication medium and that most people use it all day long. In fact there are some very high-paying careers that can probably be boiled down to reading and sending email all day. However in my job, I need to actually complete non-email tasks in order to pay my bills and keep my website maintenance clients happy.

What to do About this Problem

So with that said I am currently working on a communications policy. I’ll post it online once complete. I figure that this document will be as much for me as my clients. Not only will it set a level of expectations with those that rely on me but also give me a personal policy to follow and feel good about.

Every Two Hours

I’m thinking that I’ll go to a pattern of checking email  every two hours, clients can expect me to check email during business hours at a minimum of every two hours (and respond accordingly). I’m hoping that this gives them piece of mind that I will get and deal with their message accordingly. I am also hoping this boosts my personal productivity and cuts into the psychosis that is driving me to check email like a bad tick.

In addition to putting together a personal/professional communications policy, I have also been using some new tools to help curb the email problem. I’ll be going over all items in additional posts very soon.

photo by Gideon Tsang / CC