About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Stop Letting Your Inbox Own You
Friday, April 20, 2007

For those who may have missed it, it rained a bit on the east coast this past weekend, and by "a bit" I mean I started to gather up two of every animal with worries that I may have to very quickly find a girlfriend because someone was going to have to help me repopulate the planet. Of course the rain eventually subsided but not before it dumped a record amount of H2O over the area. On Monday morning the east cost looked shipwrecked, but all was fine for me until around 11AM when both my internet and my home phone connections went down. A billion concerns entered my mind, but one stuck out the most; how was I going to do my job? Well, after managing to live my life and do my work with no home internet connection or home phone for 24 hours not only did I have the answer to that question, but I also realized something very big, I was not using my time online to the best of my ability. I’m guessing a lot of you may have fallen into some of the “I must be online at all times” traps that I had, so today I’m going to break down some of the ways we can all more effectively use the net.

My first big worry when my net went down was that I wasn’t going to be able to answer emails in a timely fashion. I ended up making runs to the library, which has free WiFi, with my laptop. My well executed plan led me to being at the library at set times when I felt my email inbox would be filled with the most work-related messages. What I found was, although it can be nice to reply instantaneously to things, it’s not necessary, and by not responding right away I was able to deal with more of the interview pitches people were sending me at once and not worry about double-booking days because I had everything in front of me.

Email is a great tool, but we’ve become far too enamored with it. We’re all Pavlovian pooches waiting to hear the click of our inbox so we can instantly see who’s looking to get in touch with us. The reality of it all is that most of the time we end up having email conversations that don’t lead to much of anything and a seemingly endless amount of IMs open at once. Here's an idea, try not getting into an IM convo for a day. Instead, call whoever you want to get in touch with, that way when the conversation ends you won’t already have four more started, four more that you never intended on having, which is the ultimate danger with IMs. Another great idea is to sign off when you’re done answering email and work on something that you don’t need to be online for. What I found was that without the distraction of the click of my email inbox, or even worse, the anticipation of the click, my concentration was improved tenfold. Even when my net was back up and running I continued to sign off after answering the morning emails and went to work on some articles I wanted to edit. In an hour I had three down to reasonable sizes and they were all top notch. Once finished with the task I signed back on and answered all the new emails in my inbox.

I know some of you may be skeptical, or even scared to close your email inbox, but it really does help you complete projects in a much more timely manner. Want to get something done? Then stop with the mindless emails about nothing, the IMs that lead nowhere, and the web surfing that just acts as a passive form of procrastination. By being forced to take my laptop into the library to work I found myself not doing any of those nonessential things that do nothing but take up our time. I logged on, handled my business, and left as soon as I was done. Incidentally, this can also lead to more free time in life because your work will be done a lot quicker.

In the end, losing my net for a day turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it made me better at my job. In the two days since it’s been back up and running I’ve signed on less and gotten a lot more work done. I’ve also come to the following realization: Do you know what you call an email that you have to answer right away? A phone call. Because if someone really needs to get in touch with you, they’ll call, and if they don’t have your number, they don’t really need to get in touch with you. Now sign off and get moving on something you need to do, or even something you want to do, because responding instantaneously to those emails and IMs is only slowing you down.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:58 AM  
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