I recently read a fantastic piece by Dr. Jim Harter at Harvard Business Review. Its title asks a simple question: “Should Employers Ban Email After Work Hours?” The whole article is a great read, one of the best I’ve seen on email and work productivity, but one thing in particular caught my interest: the author’s discussion of what he calls the “evaluating self” vs. the “experiencing self”. I think this is a great way to look at how we feel not only about email, but about work/life balance in general. Basically, when researchers at Gallup (where Harter is a Chief… Continue reading A Self Divided: Evaluating, Experiencing, and Email
I recently reread a great article over at Gizmodo by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan: “Google Can’t Fix What’s Really Wrong With Email: Us”. The article is specifically about Google’s launch last fall of their email management tool, Inbox. However, I think the article is also useful as a broad reminder of what we really mean when we talk about the problem of email. Here’s the author’s description of Gmail Inbox: “It ‘bundles’ related emails into single-topic threads, and even adds relevant info. It gives you the ability to ‘snooze’ emails…it pulls out important info from certain emails so you don’t have to… Continue reading Email Is Not the Problem. We Are.
Everywhere we go, we are offered opportunities to save time. We are proffered a panoply of shortcuts, lifehacks, and end runs that—if only properly applied—will somehow allow us to accrue a surplus of that most valuable resource: time. This is of course total bullshit. Time is so valuable precisely because we can’t save it. I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, everybody knows you can’tliterally save time. It’s just a figure of speech. Stop being pedantic.” And while I freely admit that I am more than passing familiar with a little pedantry now and again, I do think it’s important that… Continue reading No such thing as saving time
Our culture is spoiled by speed. We think nothing of transoceanic flights that cover distances in a matter of hours that 100 years ago would have taken months. On the Internet, we measure time by the millisecond, and quickly become frustrated when a webpage takes even a few seconds to load (ugh…that’s literally thousands of milliseconds!!) But perhaps no part of our culture is as obsessed with speed as the world of business (well, possibly NASCAR). Prompt attention is obviously an important part of every business, but because technology has enabled us to communicate across more and more space in… Continue reading “As Soon As Possible” is Too Soon: Why ASAP Culture is Bad for Everybody
I take two steps forward/ I take two steps back, We come together/ ’cause opposites attract. —Paula Abdul Since time immemorial, our wisest sages and speakers of truth—Lao Tzu, Plato, Descartes, Paula Abdul—have observed that all of reality can be divided into two equal and oppositional forces: light and darkness, heat and cold, up and down, Jedi and the Sith. And while these forces are opposite, they are also complementary; true harmony can only be attained when they are brought into balance. The most famous representation of this perfect balance is the taijitu, the Ancient Chinese symbol of yin and… Continue reading The Yin-Yang of Email
On the first day of an acting class I took in college, one of my classmates asked our teacher what “school” we would be learning. The Method, like little Bancrofts and Brandos? Or maybe the Meisner technique, repeating our lines to each other over and over until they lost all meaning? My teacher shook his head. “If I were teaching you to be a mechanic,” he said, “I wouldn’t only teach you how to use a wrench and then say ‘go and tell people you’re a Wrench mechanic.’ What good would that be? Sometimes a wrench is useful; sometimes it… Continue reading Why Email Belongs in Your Toolbox
We would all like to be more productive, to get more done, to push our careers forward. This is an admirable goal, and willing to do hard work in order to achieve it is important and worthwhile. Too often, though, we confuse being busy with doing good work. If I am working all the time, stressed about returning those emails asap, checking my phone 50 times a day to make sure I’m not missing anything important, then I must be doing something right, right? Wrong. There’s an old Spanish saying that I love that translates roughly as: “I dress myself… Continue reading The Productivity Illusion: Why Busy-ness is Bad for Business
Timyo began its life with one short question: “What went wrong with email?” In just a few years, email has gone from one of the great new conveniences of the Internet Age to a cause of persistent and increasing anxiety that seems to take ever more time, energy, and patience, until we shudder at the mere thought of checking our inboxes. How did this happen? And more importantly: what can be done about it? What went wrong is a long story, but it basically amounts to two simple truths: email has been saddled with a bunch of jobs that it… Continue reading What went wrong with email?