I was at a conference lately, checking my phone. A waiter stopped me and said to me in French ‘when you’re drinking water, look at the glass’ (i.e. not your phone) I hadn’t noticed. I smiled.
How often do you find yourself walking, talking, absent-mindedly? And when you’re busy being so absent, where are you really?
I realised a few years ago, as the owner of SME, I was busier than most of my clients. My partner, a Dutchman, simply didn’t understand what I was doing all day; that was until I started working a day from home.
I read a great blog online the other day by another business owner who only checks his emails twice a week, now his clients are used to it, he’s more productive; his whole company is. Although important, time spent on emails is less effective because you are reacting. You’re not driving. If you replied to every email, you would probably stop being successful at all.
Why we like emails
Because for a moment in time, it’s perfect. The trouble is, you always get one back! The business world is growing more complicated, things working, is almost never a one-sided conversation. Email is fine for small things, but we are over-doing it.
Just imagine trying to buy a house with just one offer. Buying a house is simply not possible without negotiation. You don’t just make ‘an offer.’ Both parties need to understand the rationale behind their price point. You must have a conversation.
The solution? The phone. Pick it up. If you need to talk to a colleague, schedule a quick meeting, block time. If needed, send the message more than once, don’t get offended. When you call someone, ask if it’s a good time and it does not matter how senior you are. Try to be succinct, and listen carefully.
Remember that life is complicated, and we are all incredibly busy. So don’t take it personal.
Mind the productivity gap
Despite our vast technological innovation, global productivity is actually in decline. You might ask how, given that we can answer our emails in shopping queues, buy flights using an app, soon our cars will drive us. The issue is global.
Economists such as Robert Gordon argue that this slump in productivity growth reflects the stagnation of technology. But I disagree. I don’t think it’s the technology, (quite the opposite, what about artificial intelligence, biotechnology?) I think it’s us.
We have passed 3 decades of growth spurred on by all things technological, but it’s slowing down. We have reached a point that is post-efficient. There is no gain. We are falling into the trap of thinking Siri, can do the thinking for us. It’s lethargic. Facebook keeps us in touch with many people we don’t know anymore. How time-consuming is it going through that Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin newsfeed these days?
Mind-numbing, spirit-crushing emails
Our global workforce is trapped in a sea of un-dynamic, pass-the-buck replies. Talking without meaning. Sometimes we are not even replying, we are just copied in. Why? So we are aware? Aware of what? How many things can you be aware of at the same time? Mind-numbing, spirit-crushing, email, is filling your inbox and your mind. And while the emails crash on, the real magic, productivity, is leaving out the back door.
Because the real work isn’t in your inbox, on your computer, or your tablet, it’s in your head.
Uber can pick us up, but can it really fix us?
This summer, make sure you take a good break. You deserve it. Your business does too. See you in late September for more inspiration
By Rana Hein-Hartmann, Funds Partnership