Email has vexed me for the last several years. It has transformed from being a useful communication tool to a corporate crutch - it seems that an ever-growing percentage of my emails are of the cover-my-ass variety. [If that's unclear, what I mean is this: "Just to be sure nobody can say later that I didn't tell them about something, I'm going to tell everybody about it RIGHT NOW."]
So when I read this article in the Harvard Business Review (Coping with Email Overload by Peter Bregman), I decided to give his experiment a try. The gist of this experiment is this:
- We allow email to distract us from work we don't want to do (GUILTY)
- We can be MUCH more efficient if we timebox our email.
SO … I am conducting a one-day experiment with my email [I will extend and tweak it as long as it works]. Here's how I'm doing my email:
I'll check it three times during my work day; morning, noon, and last thing before I leave. More importantly, I will spend exactly 15 minutes in it each time. No more, no less. Peter spends 30 minutes at each interval if memory serves; I am going to start with 15 with a recognition that I may need to go up 5, 10 or 15 more minutes to cover my email volume.
Another interesting note here: I'm putting it on my calendar. At a certain time. If I "miss my meeting" with email, I miss it. That's the way it's going to be during this disciplined experiment. What this also means is that in order to do my last email-check before I leave, I am scheduling the time I leave the office. That's something I NEVER do, but hey, for a one-day experiment I figure I can give it a shot.
Who wants to try it with me?