March 04, 2010

Blackberry email adds 10 working days to our year

Lost in Text

The Telegraph reports that the average Briton sees 10 extra days of work added to their year as a result of always-on email through devices like the Blackberry.

Yesterday, in a workshop that included an overview of some productivity tips for coping with more information, I made the point that for teachers more than any other profession, the notion of push always-on email was abhorrent:

  • Always-on email uses up mental bandwidth that, in teaching, is needed to concentrate on the 30 different learning challenges in front of you;
  • Always-on email encourages disorganisation in the sender's world: no email should ever be sent requesting a meeting any sooner than 24 hours ahead. If you need to see someone that soon, go and knock on their door. If you need a meeting with that person then the subject matter should be of such importance (and not urgency) that you can leave it so others can have time to prepare;
  • Always-on email is a distraction from doing the task in hand. If you don't think focus is important, then just spend some time in the world of Merlin Mann.
  • Always-on email outside the normal working day means you are working for free. If you need more time to do parts of your job that are not teaching then either a) ask for less contact time or b) lose some of your job that does not contribute to teaching your youngsters. Don't ask permission to do this. You're the professional, after all.

I was astonished, though, at the resistance to this concept. I'd have thought that good email management was a release for everyone, yet a few folk still felt that they had, in the course of the workshop and my keynote, received some useful emails which they wanted to think about. Fair enough, but they weren't concentrating, weren't able to concentrate, on the really challenging stuff I was trying to get them to think about. Their choice, and one I often make in a conference situation.

But we must always give ourselves the opportunity of maximum mental bandwidth at least once in the day to deal with the complex goals we're trying to achieve.

Pic from Kendriya in Andy Polaine's Lost In Text Flickr group (permission pending).


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Always on email for a class teacher - what a nightmare!
I've just been reading and listening to Jay Abraham - a leading American business specialist and he's berating the fact that so many people are trapped by email. Try turning it off / schedule email time slots / delegate clearing the rubbish to someone else.
Where did anyone sign up to a rule that says 'read emails in x minutes and reply in y?'

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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