So Stereo MCs sang in the Autumn of ’92.
Ironically, few were. Only the largest companies had business email. The mobile phone network was not fit for purpose.
A recent report suggests 1 7.63m or 15% of people in the UK are ‘Internots’ who have never used the internet. How quaint and inefficient. Or is it ? Let’s take a typical working day…
1992: 8.05am Catch the commuter train. Signal failure at Aldgate. You listen to your Walkman.
2012: 8:05am Catch the commuter train. Signal failure at Aldgate. 200 new emails on your phone. One from prospect Y. Can’t make today’s meeting. You email suggesting tomorrow. He can’t make it. In Manchester. Try to ring him. No signal.
1992: 8:48am Exit the station. Walk to work.
2012: 8:48am Exit the station. Call Prospect Y whilst walking to work. Goes straight to voice-mail. You’ll try later.
1992: 8:58am Arrive at office. Tell PA to screen all calls. Read today’s post. There’s a trade mag with an article on new legislation which you read.
2012: 8:58am Arrive at office. Check your first 50 emails on your desktop. Most are emails you’ve been cc’d in on. One is from client X, regarding a new project. Spend an hour crafting a response.
1992: 9:30am You write down tasks priorities.
2012: 9:30am Half way through prioritising tasks you get an email back from client X.
1992: 10am Work uninterupted… for 3 hours.
2012: 10am Whilst replying to client X, partner calls about the child minder. Keep making typos on your email. You’ll email after the call.
2012: 10.45 Call finished. Email comes through from boss asking for sales figures. Best do it now. You’ll email back to client X later.
2012: 11:30: Email sales figures when get a call from an unknown number. Prospect Y ? It’s a supplier. Don’t want their services, but may in the future, so have a brief chat.
2012: 12pm Boss emails back questions. Is this a trap? You give a long measured response. Boss emails to thank you. Email back to thank your boss.
2012: 12:30 See Tweet re: new legislation. Read article. Has a link to source. Read that. Includes a technical term you don’t know. You Google it…
1992: 1pm Leave for lunch. PA tells you prospect Y couldn’t make 2pm meeting, so rescheduled for 4pm. Call back Client X between 2-3pm. MD asked for the sales figures by the end of the week.
2012: 1:30 Back to 200 unread emails. Best work through lunch. Reschedule meeting with propect Y and call client X once emails are cleared.
1992: 2pm Back from lunch. Call client X. Discuss new project. You dictate proposal.
2012: 2pm Emails down to 100. Working well.
1992: 3pm Pass tape to PA. Work on other tasks.
2012: 3pm Emails back down to 50.
1992: 4pm Meet prospect Y. It’s a rush job, so he’s seeing your competitor tomorrow in Manchester, in case you couldn’t do it in time. You win the business.
2012: 4pm Try to call Prospect Y. In a meeting.
1992: 5pm Proof read the proposal to client X. Catch tonight’s post. A good day.
2012: 5:30pm Finally get hold of prospect Y. Says he’ll call back tomorrow evening. Right. Best start that reply to client X…
The Scientific Evidence
A recent study by the University of California found recovery time: the time it takes an individual to return to a task after being interrupted, can be as much as 10 to 20 times the length of the original interruption. This seems to increase with age.
So a 30 second interruption, for example a quick scan of an incoming email without replying, could add a further 5 minutes to return to a task.
How many interruptions do you get per day ?
It’s time to switch off the noise !
- Use phone to clarify ideas & arrange meetings.
- Resist copying others in on emails unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Check emails a maximum of 3 times per day.
- Only text reminders and confirmations