I have decided that I am going to apply some principles from “The Four Hour Work Week”.  I find myself being entirely too fractured during the day and I need to limit my distractions and make sure I am most effective for my team.

The first thing I am going to try is not checking email all day, all the time.  I began this process last night.  I have decided to check my email at 11AM and 4PM daily.  This has been an incredible challenge.  I keep wanting to grab my phone.  I am desperate to see what is happening and if I am missing anything.  So far, so good…  nothing groundbreaking has happened that I needed to know about in the last few hours.  I will update in a few days to let everyone know how this is going.  So far this is similar to when I quit smoking.  It feels good, but it still hurts.

Has anyone out there done this successfully?.. and if so- how did it go?

UPDATE:  July 2012

OK-  so this was not a miserable failure-  but it did not have the same outcome I had expected.  I went a few weeks without checking my email except for 2 times a day.  This was nice because it allowed me to detach and not get so worked up.  The problem was the mess I had created. People expected me to be on email.  It was not a simple matter of detaching.  I had built a culture of people communicating with me via email over years.  3 weeks was not going to fix it.  Neither was my Out of Office email.  People assumed I was on vacation because they did not read it, they just saw it was auto generated and assumed I was out.

What I found was that disabling the alerts on my office laptop and my phone helped me handle the stress of all that communication MUCH more effectively.  I was able to remove the auditory and visual queues that would set me to run over to my laptop or phone to see what was happening.  I was now in control of when I checked the messages.  The number of checks grew to a few times per hour, but that was much less than the every few minutes I would check as the dings and pop-ups alerted me to the next crisis or funny meme.

All in all I think I did OK.  I learned that everyone needs to turn off their phones from beeping with each new alert.  To be honest, its irritating and distracts from getting real work done.  By turning off alerts, it reminds us that we control the machines, they do not control us.

Anybody else ever give this a shot?

Tagged with: