A few weeks ago I was discussing my ways of getting things done during the work day, in particular when it deals with constant distractions, in particular colleagues and email. I've been discussing that during my creative days, I do my best to answer my emails only in the evening. That does not mean I don't read them as I receive them, because obviously I don't want to miss important client emails. Same for phone calls. However the real thing that I am struggling with is that my states of flow can last for more than 8 hours in a row. During those times, I will not tolerate any interruption because, as Edna would say, "it distracts from the now". So what is the solution? -By Philippe Mora (@philippemora)
San Francisco, <05/04/14> - I've always thought that the social contract with anything that's written communication is the asynchronous nature of it. Which means: I don't know when I am going to get your email, and you don't know when I am going to read it therefore you're not going to expect an immediate answer. I have found out that this social contract works very well in Europe and Japan. And it really fails in the US and China. Why is that?
In 1635, England’s Charles I expanded the island’s mail delivery service to the public — with postage paid by the recipient and based on the weight of the letter. If Great Aunt Henrietta wrote you a 10-page letter asking why you weren’t married yet, throughout most of the country you paid for the privilege of receiving it. It wasn’t until 1840 that the Royal Mail switched to a system in which postage was prepaid by the sender.
I think of this fact often when checking my email. I hope it doesn’t take 200 years to figure out how to make the initiators of these messages — rather than their beleaguered recipients — bear the burden of their sending. But until then, recipients have to manage. And often, we have to manage without the kind of administrative support 20th century executives relied on.
Two years ago, frustrated by this state of affairs, I published a cri de coeur on this site railing against the lamentable state of inboxes everywhere. Making my despair public had an unanticipated side effect: I started hearing from people who’d discovered tips and tools that could help. In the months since, I’ve experimented with a range of different options. There were several oft-recommended tactics that failed utterly for me, and a few that did work. The way I see it, we’ve got to band together to defeat the email Hydra, so here’s what worked for me and what didn’t. Notably, most of the successful tactics had less to do with email and more to do with general time management — although there were two important exceptions.
What didn’t work:
There is an old saying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: to drink from a firehose, you need to use a straw. If email is the firehose, apps like Signals, Trello, SaneBox, and others are the straws. And modern missivists can at least be thankful that, unlike the letter-writers of 17th century Britain, we have keyboard shortcuts for “copy” and “paste.
[Read More Here > Thank You HBR 04/11/14]
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