Managing Connectedness

By February 25, 2008 No Comments

Two. Three. Five. Eight. How many ways do you stay connected to others? Or, are you connected to only yourself?

The “higher” we get when we hear the little ping indicating that someone wants to communicate with us, the more we need to unconnect to manage connectedness.

We left for France on a Friday and I self-righteously proclaimed that I wasn’t going to check email again until after the weekend. And I was so good about it, even keeping my lap top zippered in its little case, until about mid-day Monday (pre-dawn USA), when I started thinking about the mail that might be waiting for my discovery. (Because we were driving from Normandy to Bordeaux, connecting wasn’t an option, but thinking about it was.)

By the time we got to the hotel (morning USA), I hooked up my laptop before I even took off my coat. Picture this: I’m bundled in my winter coat and scarf, with baggage unopened, in a warm hotel room, in Bordeux, France, with my husband, waiting (impatiently) for the cable to bring forth my mail. It dawned on me right then that that was probably how a junkie might feel waiting for the drug, just injected, to kick in.

I know I’m not the only one out of control. I know this because many clients tell me that they routinely check their email when they go to the bathroom (toilette, loo, washroom) in the middle of the night. One hotel sales leader told me (with a bit of pride) that she always checks her BlackBerry while brushing her teeth in the morning. It gives her a “jump on the day.” A jump on the day?

Enough! Manage connectedness! You and I need to take control of our inboxes and refuse to be managed by, or addicted to, them. We need to set limits to increase productivity and sanity.

I’ve promised myself to reread The Wall Street Journal’s article, published last summer, called How to Stop Your BlackBerry from Being the Boss of You. The main points include:

There’s no such thing as an “email emergency.”
The world does not revolve around you.
Stick to a schedule.
Respect BlackBerry Blackout Zones.

Here are some other ideas:

Don’t check email first thing in the day. (Yes, you’re likely to suffer withdrawal!) We check, hopeful that the news will be in the mail. Maybe. And maybe it’s your job to check. But if you want to get work done, begin your day with whatever was most important to your long term success that was left undone yesterday. Get that out of the way and then check email.

Do something productive with each email as you read it. Do not read through each one and then close them, only to waste time re-opening them later (and then closing them again). File them, delete them or respond to them. You decide if you’ll open from the most recent or the first sent. But don’t open, close, open, close.

Train people around you to help you help them. Craft your subject line to key the recipient in so that at a quick glance, she knows if it’s an action request, confirmation, follow-up, urgent, deadline, or what.

Other ideas to beat or manage this drug?

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