Take a trip with me.
You have your smartphone and you unlink your email settings from your email server, making it impossible to receive email on your smartphone. You could probably still access your email via the browser on your smartphone — but that is so time-consuming, you’d rather not.
Your last email to your team, clients, and colleagues is to let them know you will be checking email at regular intervals during the day while you are at the office and if there is an actual emergency, to call you on your smartphone. But for all intents and purposes, you are not reading or responding to emails when you’re not in the office.
What would happen?
1. You might get a few more phone calls.
But that’s not a terrible thing. Instead of getting into a viscious email communication chain on some obscure topic, you can probably handle it with a quick 3-5 minute call. And you can group your callbacks and keep them short.
2. You get more organized and focused when you did access your email at the office.*
Initially, it would build up. But as team members, clients, and colleagues would notice, email would cease to be a primary communication vehicle for you. Since you only had a limited amount of time to read your email, you would only focus on those emails that were from key members of your team or were directly sent to you. Anything else most likely can fall by the wayside. *I totally understand if you spend 90-100% of your time away from the office — your smartphone is critical. But what would happen if you just checked emails when you opened your laptop? Or if you checked your smartphone at discreet times during the day and not ALL the time?
3. You would get slower replying to email.
No more quick responses — email is not texting or twitter. In fact, I would ask you not to use those tools either. The whole idea is to limit interruptions to your day to be able to focus on the important and strategic things happening in your life. If it’s tactical- or emergency-based use the phone.
4. You would get faster communicating with your staff, clients, and colleagues.
No more long-winded emails — no death-defying email chains that go on forever. Just small phone interruptions (or grouping of phone calls) to connect and engage, manage, or inform. You can get a reputation of fast phone calls, keep them to 1-2 minutes or less and focus on the task at hand and make decisions or take action. Email prolongs debate — how many times have you been put through the email wringer with various vicious email cycles?
A number of clients of mine have done this and they’ve found a significant lightening of their load AND they are getting more things done. Why?
Email is not a very good communication vehicle.
It takes a long time to compose an email, there are many instances when you do give direction and someone doesn’t see it, or the email message is misconstrued in a way where you come of yelling or reprimanding. Bottom line – email is not ‘two-way’ communication — it’s a broadcast medium. In fact, it’s worse, when you run into CC: and BCC: transmissions of the same email.
These reactive responses deliver the wrong message — not promoting or pushing projects and people forward — they actually get into email ruts. Trust me — I’ve been there.
Finally, email turns into heroin for some people. You know who you are — reading your email constantly like a stock ticker — responding instantly to people. How much productivity is wasted with this type of communication? What might be a better way of communicating?
So if you’re brave — try unlinking your email today. If you just want to try it, don’t check your email at all today — have an email response: “I won’t be able to check my email today on my phone, please call me if it’s urgent.”
Go for it.