As we come to the end of Think Productive UK founder Graham Allcott’s month of “email Friday”, he discusses some of the consequences of only checking his inbox once a week
Find out more about Graham’s 2013 experiments here
All this month, I’ve only ‘done’ emails on Fridays. It has surprised me in some ways how easy this has been, but there have been tough moments, too.
Here are a few of the key moments:
> I realised about two weeks in to the experiment that I wasn’t connecting with some of our team enough. Simply put, email had become such a dominant medium for me, that I’d got out of the habit of using the phone or having human conversations, face to face. I have started to change this, but it’s probably felt to certain team members that I’ve been away on a long holiday!
> We had a conversation with the team internally about what might land in my inbox that couldn’t afford to be left for a week. It has meant with a few things like responding to client sales queries (approx 3-5 per week land in my inbox rather than go to the generic email addresses, mainly due to longstanding relationships), that Elena has fished these out of my inbox and sent the responses.
> Elena relies heavily on email to communicate with me. For her, it’s meant a frustrating time of ‘storing up’ the things that need a decision from me. Particularly annoying when there’s a string of conversation that she then has to print out or memorise. (I suspect this would be a much worse issue still if we didn’t do a daily huddle meeting, which allows the team a set period of time to ask each other questions each morning).
> I’ve sometimes felt rudderless. I’m in the middle of a working day, aware that a big part of my brain is saying “go check your email” or “what’s happening in the world – go see go see!”. It’s taken a while to overcome this fear of my lack of connection, but longer still to recognise that I’m in control: that I can be proactive not reactive. It seems our addiction to the drama of being reactive runs deep!
So do these consequences mean I shouldn’t have done this experiment? Not at all. I’ve found it enjoyable, valuable, liberating and insightful. But maybe there’s a lesson too.
You can optimise your own attention and flow. But only so much before it impacts on those around you.
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Read all of Graham’s Experimentation blog posts
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No Email – Lifehacker