Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Distraction of Your Choice

Email envelopeI might have mentioned that I've been reading "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss lately. In it, the author recommends clearing out those parts of you life which don't actually contribute to your goals. This mirrors the advice from my Karate teacher, Professor Hafner. He says that sometimes, to achieve what you love, you must give up that which you like.

In Ferriss's case, some of the things he recommends cutting out aren't even the things we like all that much. Sometimes they are just the things we allow to consume our time -- things which make us feel like we are being productive when in reality we are only keeping busy. Reading blogs, reading the newspaper, watching the news, and, yes, even reading and responding to email fall into this category. Ferriss himself checks his email once a week, each Monday at 10am.

Now, he admits that you have to do some adjusting in your life and that it takes a while to get to that level. What he does recommend to start, is to limit yourself to checking only twice a day, at noon (or right before lunch) and at 4 (or right before you leave for the day). Answering it more often or (shudder) whenever it comes in tends to cost us too much time. It takes a certain amount of time to get into a project and each time we break to check our mailbox, we have to pay that price again in order to get back into the process.

So, I decided to take the challenge. I've been trying it now for about three days. No checking email in the morning when I get up. No checking it before I go to bed at night. I'm trying to do the same with the blogs that I read.

OK, this is tough.

Email has a siren song which beckons to me. What is an important message just came in? What about the answer to the question for which I've been waiting? You can think up a plethora of completely reasonable-sounding rationalizations for why you need to check. Today I didn't do so well.

Do you suppose there's some sort of twelve step program for email users?

So, how often do you check your email?


Larc said...


Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

I put one of my favourite quotes by Bruce Lee here:

And I check my e-mail about 4 times a day because I do volunteer work answering a General Inquiries e-mail address for a non-profit association (and the public appreciates timely responses). Also as a work-at-home-Mom sometimes it is nice to have adult conversations even if they are only by e-mail :)

Sandy of Sandy's Stuff for Women said...

I would probably have to give up something else - e-mail is sacred. I feel the same about regular mail. I just know that someday, somehow, somewhere, I'm going to get something in the mail that's going to change my life. Who, me weird?

Angela said...

I have at least 2 accounts open at almost all times. I feel terrible now.