I cannot begin to describe to you the feelings of joy, relief and satisfaction! The absolute ecstasy. I worked through the 151 unread emails from today and it is now on zero! Zero! For the first time since Jan 1 I’m on zero unread emails!
It probably won’t last for more than 5 minutes, but while its there I’m popping a cork to celebrate.
When did handling your emails become a thing? I started my working career in the email era, but in those days I got about 20 emails a day and most where jokes from my buddies who also started working last week.
At Varsity, we had a course where they taught us what email was, what the Internet was and how to search. Yes, at university we were taught how to google. Now my five year old son knows how to.
But my point is, there was a time when email was not a thing. And it wasn’t that long ago. Imagine, those cave-office-men had zero unread emails every day of their lives! They worked with paper and staplers and pens and file folders and phones. And a dead potplant – love the dead potplant.
Having email and receiving email is not the issue though. Thinking that reading and responding to emails is actually work…that is a problem.
Work is effort to achieve a result. So in context of what we do at our company…we build software for our customers. That is the result we need, working software that makes our customers happy. Any effort that does not help us achieve that result, is not work.
Now let’s think about email. Of the 151 emails I had to get through today, was that work? It kept me busy…so it felt like work. 20 of them were emails from our HR system notifying me of leave requests – about 3 emails per request. 15 of them were emails from Meetup. 35 were emails for training, marketing events, or other non-solicited emails. A few were from colleagues about interesting articles they read. Some were requests for work, some were proposals for work requests, some were information about projects, some were about contracts. These help towards the result – that’s work.
So its scary to admit that I think between 10 and 20 of the emails I had to handle, I consider to be work. The rest were just busyness. Not business, busyness.
Be very careful about what you allow to keep you busy. Probably most of it is not work, its either interference if you do it unwillingly, or work avoidance if you do it willingly.