A recent cartoon in The Week really made me laugh!
Picture the scene: A man is standing at a drinks party wearing a doggy-cone around his neck, completely covering his neck and ears. One of the type that stops a dog from scratching itself after a visit to the vets.
When the person he is speaking to notices – and can’t help themselves from asking “Erm, why?!” the punch-line was:
“Yes – it stops me from checking my phone every 35 seconds!”
And yes – fess up! We can all relate to it – the ever-present obsessive compulsion to press ‘refresh-refresh-refresh’ on whichever push email device you’re – let’s face it – tethered to for all eternity (yes you are – you can’t even go to the bathroom without it!) With the obsessive triple question, burning right there, on the front of your mind, as you press refresh – even before you’ve pressed the flush (see what I did there?!):
“Any messages?! Any messages?! Any messages?!”
And of course – YES! – you do have some messages – but as we all know (but we’ll just have to check anyway) they’re of no real value whatsoever!
(And don’t even get yourself started on the old ever-pervasive “BCC” “CC” e-mail cultural habit/imperative in your organisation – that sends every piece of useless, non-informative junk ‘wanging’ effortlessly – around and around and around – your organisation, in ever decreasing circles of pointlessness-ness (erm, ness…)
Cue Monty Python singing “Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam: Wonderful SPAAAAAM – Wonderful SPAAAM!” erm, etc…
Anyway – you get the point!
Email: Often referred to in our courses as being one of the most toxic “monsters of distraction” – to generally deter and distract you from what you could definitely more usefully be applying yourself to – in terms of exactly where to apply your energy and focus during the course of your working day.
Did you know that research shows that the more that you are required to “split focus” or swop tasks during the course of your working day, the less and less efficient you become in either task that you are attempting?
In fact, even the first time that you switch tasks you become 25% less efficient in either task.
And here comes another delightful opportunity to fess up:
“Do you press “mute” during a Conference Call – and carry on with your e-mails?”
Of course you do!
Congratulations! And welcome to the world of the Double Wammy – the world of crap listening and crap e-mails!
(I’ll be sure to “BCC” you in on that last one, just to be sure that you’ve all got the message!)
So – what to do?
Try – in spite of yourself – to stay PRESENT and FOCUSSED on ideally the SINGLE TASK at hand – and try to RESIST & DESIST with your compulsion to check!
Try instead to “Refresh – Refresh – Refresh” your attitude (!) – and the blind old habit of being tethered to your device.
Challenge yourself instead, about the choices that you are making – about exactly where to apply your ENERGY and your FOCUS during the course of your working day.
And yes, of course, some e-mails are important: Maybe set aside a specific period of time – maybe twice or three times a day (and only at those specific times) – to check for and focus appropriately on your e-mails.
And if all else fails of course – wear a Doggy Cone!
It worked for me!