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ODR 1 – Email Part 1 – Email is Not the Problem, You Are!

Email is not really the issue--our relationship with email is the problem!
Home » On Deeper Reflection » ODR 1 – Email Part 1 – Email is Not the Problem, You Are!

The ODR Podcast

On Deeper Reflection is a podcast on making our lives as happy and productive as possible! Today’s episode deals with the bugbear of many in medicine–email.

1. Understand the Technology

  • Email is an amazing Technology!
    • Async-Mail
    • Sync-Phone, Telegraph, Text, Chatapps,
    • Email-Asynchronous with instant delivery–but this should not mean instant viewing
  • Philosophy is wrong, not tactics
  • Bad Solutions
    • An article on just keeping emails in inbox misses the entire point. There are only two acceptable solutions and ignoring email is definitely one of them, but inbox zero is the better version of that.
  • Inbox Zero
    • Arrival Rate vs. Departure Rate
    • Every inbox item costs you decision dollars
    • We don’t want to make decisions
  • Too Much Email-No!!!!! Too Much Stuff
  • I Just Check Once Per Day
    • Vs. I set aside time to do Deep Work
    • Analogous to I took Facebook off my phone…

2. Email Should Spark Joy

  • Used to have combined work and home
  • Never, ever do this!!!! Separate Work and Email
  • Work Check Once, while at work or every day depending on your job
  • Horrible human being would email on Friday afternoon with something horrible

3. Don’t treat an async tech as sync

  • Don’t expect or encourage real-time use
  • It is fine to reply right away, but dissuade the belief that you will consistently
  • Pacing

4. Your Email Inbox cannot be your ToDo system

5. Just 1 Touch

  • DoIt
  • SystemIt
  • DelegateIt
  • SaveIt
  • UnsubIt-goes back to brings joy, true joy–not dopamine hit
  • FilterIt
  • Trashit (actually archive)
  • SpamIt
  • Maybe-Bringit Back Services

6. Archive, Don’t Delete

7.  Search, Don’t File

8. Inbox Elimination to Keep You Honest

  • Too Many Inboxes
  • Gmail Mailboxes

9. Cut out Back & Forth Steps

10. For Some Use  cases, Are Slack/Basecamp/Teams the Solution?

Books to Read

[aawp box=”0804137382″]You need to prune down to what is important!!![/aawp]

[aawp box=”0349411905″]Life Changing! We’ll do a book club on this one ASAP[/aawp]

Now on to the Podcast…

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Scott Weingart
Articles: 7

7 Comments

  1. NRN 😉 !

    Wow !!! I love it, i am SO thrilled about this new podcast.
    What a great way to start. As usual, i love how you go deep and granular, first principles thinking at its best !

    In all respect, i agree with 90% of everything, but i think you are missing a couple of crucial points.

    1) Email is addictive
    Each response to an email is a burst of dopamine that tells us (me at least) : you are doing something awesome, keep up the good job !!!
    As a human being with a finite will, each email checking, will at some point, mean less deepwork.

    2) Email is pipeline of sh$t on your emotional and cognitive bandwidth
    I recall on a previous podcast that you told the audience that even when hiring someone to organize the EMCrit Conference, you found that you still had the conference on your cognitive bandwidth, no matter how well the guy worked.
    I think email is the same thing..i have a limited amount of cognitive and emotional bandwidth for a day.
    Just seeing the email of someone super angry in the department, even if i delete it, is going to have an impact on my day. Seeing a request for another project to complete, even i fill it in my GTD system, is going to be in my head, somewhere, during my shift.
    For me, less email checking is equal to more mindfullness, more creativity and more energy to tackle hard things at work and in life in general

    3) Email is a poor way to collaborate
    If i deal with another tech savy person, it’s easy. The reply will be linked to a shared google document, the message will be brief and action oriented, and i will trust that my collaborator will have a system to make sure he/she delivers.
    But this is rare 😉 !!
    People are forgetting to put other in cc, they don’t collaborate on the same document it’s a mess…
    I think a collaborative platform is really a game changer for this.
    I use monday.com for my non-profit organization and teams for my hospital related projects. With these platforms, i can control the workflow and make sure thing gets done.
    I try to stay away from any project that is not on a collaborative platform.

    4) Is email really the best way to deal with personal stuff ?
    This is very personal, but i find text,phone even messenger to be way better than email to interact with my love ones.

    One thing i am currently experimenting is radical 😉 ..

    • I check my messages 2times a day on monday & teams, because this is closely related to my deep work, where i try to make things happen and make a difference. I need to be there for my team.
    • I am there for my family by sms/phone
    • I check the pipeline once a week
    • I hired a personal assistant part time to parse through my non-profit email to be extremely responsive to users, but without being suck into the email hole each time.. (maybe i’m just weaker than you scott hahaha 😉 !!) So far, it’s a huge relief.

    I’m trying this for 2month, i’ll give you an update !

    Fred

    • 1) Email is addictive Each response to an email is a burst of dopamine that tells us (me at least) : you are doing something awesome, keep up the good job !!! As a human being with a finite will, each email checking, will at some point, mean less deepwork.

      If you have culled your email, you actually are doing something awesome–that is my whole point. This comment came to me by email and it was super-rewarding to read. Deep work times should have you checking email NEVER. If you firewall your deep work time, then you are only checking email in the shallows. At that point, checking email can be amongst the best thing you can do with your time compared to social media. And of course a horrible thing compared to taking a walk or playing with your kid.

      2) Email is pipeline of sh$t on your emotional and cognitive bandwidth I recall on a previous podcast that you told the audience that even when hiring someone to organize the EMCrit Conference, you found that you still had the conference on your cognitive bandwidth, no matter how well the guy worked. I think email is the same thing..i have a limited amount of cognitive and emotional bandwidth for a day. Just seeing the email of someone super angry in the department, even if i delete it, is going to have an impact on my day. Seeing a request for another project to complete, even i fill it in my GTD system, is going to be in my head, somewhere, during my shift. For me, less email checking is equal to more mindfullness, more creativity and more energy to tackle hard things at work and in life in general

      thought I was pretty clear that work email should only be checked once per day (or less). 

      3) Email is a poor way to collaborate If i deal with another tech savy person, it’s easy. The reply will be linked to a shared google document, the message will be brief and action oriented, and i will trust that my collaborator will have a system to make sure he/she delivers. But this is rare https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/13.1.0/svg/1f609.svg !! People are forgetting to put other in cc, they don’t collaborate on the same document it’s a mess… I think a collaborative platform is really a game changer for this. I use monday.com for my non-profit organization and teams for my hospital related projects. With these platforms, i can control the workflow and make sure thing gets done. I try to stay away from any project that is not on a collaborative platform.

      think you are blending two things here: there is the form at which communication is occurring and there is the reference area for a project. some platforms blend both–I haven’t been impressed with platforms succeeding at both. I use clickup for work collaboration and I love it!!! It works for todo/project progress tracking and the commenting system allows a great retention of communication. It fails as reference storage and still requires links to something in the google drive world. 

      4) Is email really the best way to deal with personal stuff ? This is very personal, but i find text,phone even messenger to be way better than email to interact with my love ones.

      Of course a phone/video call is a different entity entirely. Where we differ is that I find text/messenger to be an incredibly shallow means of pseudo-communication. Useful for “what do you want to do for dinner”, and the death of the mindset that went in to a epistolary mindset. Of course, having interacted with me for a few years you know my ultimate feeling for asynchronous, meaningful communication is sending an audio file. 

      One thing i am currently experimenting is radical

      • I check my messages 2times a day on monday & teams, because this is closely related to my deep work, where i try to make things happen and make a difference. I need to be there for my team.

      meaning you are checking only once per week?

      I am there for my family by sms/phone

      • I check the pipeline once a week

      what is the pipeline?

      I hired a personal assistant part time to parse through my non-profit email to be extremely responsive to users, but without being suck into the email hole each time.. (maybe i’m just weaker than you scott hahaha https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/13.1.0/svg/1f609.svg !!) So far, it’s a huge relief.

      offloading customer service is vitally necessary!!!!!!

      • Thanks you so much for taking the time for such a detailed answer ! i really appreciate it.

        I think you are just better than me at getting into the jedi mindset of deep work haha..
        Deep work is so rewarding, but fighting the initial resistance is tough..
        I find that email is SO convenient for my brain to avoid tough things and “feel like i’m working”

        I tried clickup as well, really solid platform, but we needed extensive reference storage as well. Monday.com is the best i found to cover everything. It’s pretty expensive, but they offer a significant discount for non-profit !

        Sorry if i was not clear, my current experiment is this
        I check collaborative platform on a daily basis.. because it really sucks to work on a big project with someone who is not responding to anything…
        But i check everything else : Work email, Personal email … (aka the pipeline) once a week.
        So far i feel my mind is clearer and i can focus on hard things … because i don’t have my ultimate excuse to pretend i’m working : responding to emails 😉

        This podcast is so exciting Scott.. this is incredible !!

        Fred

        Ps :

        You know what would be awesome ? A bookclub on productivity !

        • On writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
        • Atomic Habits by James Clear
        • Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull


        So much great stuff to cover !!!

  2. I can’t even listen to it, unfortunately, because every couple minutes it turns to garble and stops streaming. Every other podcast works perfectly.

    • why don’t you contact us at emcrit.org/help and we can troubleshoot with you. there are no issues playing it on our end

      –Rach

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