Posts Tagged ‘Outlook’

Addicted to e-mail?

I’m addicted to my e-mail box.  It’s all I can do to stop myself from calling up Outlook first thing every morning – and every time I come back to the computer through the day.  It’s distracting, it’s frustrating and it’s totally unnecessary.

I have a life

I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for people who walk around all day attached to a Blackberry.  And that’s a big part of the reason I’ve refused to buy one.  Sure, I have a professional practice.  But I also have a life.  And my life comes first.  My practice comes second and I like it that way.

So many distractions

Besides, I’m not sure that staring into a Blackberry or obsessively checking e-mail is productive in the long run.  I’ve always admired people who have the discipline to be truly strategic.  It’s easy to be a strategic thinker; it’s quite another to put that thinking into practice in your everyday activities.  Because there are so many distractions, like Blackberries and e-mail boxes – not to mention that paradigm of attention deficit:: the internet.

It’s difficult

Discipline is difficult in the age of the internet.  We just have too many things we can do while staring at an LCD screen and it’s much too easy to ignore simple, rewarding things that are happening all around us in the real world.  There’s a time for focused work and a time for spontaneous play and, unfortunately, our computers, Blackberries and other technical toys allow us to do both and to neglect other things.  I know; I’ve been there.  And unfortunately, if I don’t discipline myself, I can return there all too often.  Just ask my wife.

Keep the beast at bay

Here are a few of the things I try to do to keep the online beast at bay and to lead a more or less productive, fruitful life:

  •     I put family first.  Obviously, there are times when I have to go to meetings or do desk work during what would normally be family time but, as much as I can, I try to make myself available to family, including looking after those little chores that mean so much to my wife.
  •    I’ve disconnected automatic e-mail delivery in my Outlook.  I look at my e-mails when I want to, not when the computer  beckons me with a tempting “ping”
  •     I try to download my e-mails no more than three or four times a day, unless I’m expecting something urgent
  •     I try to create a working plan for each week and a detailed plan for each day, prepared the day or evening before
  •     I keep a paper-based Priority List and a separate paper-based To Do list; I give priority to the priorities and fit the to-do’s in between them
  •     I try to prevent my largest priorities from consuming me by breaking them down and moving each one forward a little bit each day
  •     I avoid visiting interesting-sounding websites as soon as I hear about them.  Instead, I add them to a list, then pick an hour or two when I’m between priorities to visit several at the same sitting

I try . . .

Like everyone else, I like to think I’m pretty organized but it’s an ongoing process and yes, I slip up and sin as much as anyone and probably a lot more than some people.   You’ll notice the word “try” appears regularly in the list above and I do “try”.  But I accept that I’m not always successful.  I’m always looking for ways to improve my efficiency and reduce my distractions.  If you have any devices to share with me, I’d love to hear about them.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.