Commitment: on Monday I will do the following 3 things for next week as an experiment:
- schedule in two 15 minute slots in my calendar to check and deal with emails
- turn off Outlook during the day except for these two occasions relying on my phone to remind me of where I am meant to be and when
- monitor if 15 minutes twice a day is sufficient time
At the end of the week I will determine if it has made any difference and will respond to this blog post with my findings.
So here are my findings:
I'd decided to do my 15 minute slots at lunchtime and in the evening, but because some of my clients are in the US and I need to respond to any issues first thing in a morning, I ended up scheduling 3 x 15 minute slots.
On Monday I made a real effort to turn off outlook outside of my 15 minute slots and made quite a few notes about how it made me feel. One thing I noticed was that I'm actually quite addicted to email, and whenever I returned to my desk outlook was the first thing I tended to look for. I did resist however, and managed to deal with all the immediately actionable emails in about 35 minutes, and achieve quite a lot of other items. One complication was that on quite a few occasions I needed to send emails, which of course meant starting up outlook and left me with the temptation to check/respond to emails. It would have been good if I could have just sent an email without seeing my inbox. I'm pretty sure that there is a tool somewhere that could help me with this.
On Tuesday, again I started off with good intentions, but ended up living in outlook for most of the rest of the week. I had meeting requests turn up for "later the same day" meetings on a number of occasions, which made me realise that whilst I can control my own response to email, I can't control other peoples expectations.
As a result of this, I've given more thought to how I use email, and so I've sent emails for information, or for items that don't need immediate action, and I've used the phone, or visited people for things that are urgent, or immediate.