Having recently finished Cal Newport’s Deep Work and went on a short vacation completely disconnected from the Internet or any sort of instant messaging, I realised how much anxiety these things are giving me.
Especially instant messages. Emails are challenging too. I think we really have to challenge the implicit social contract we seem to be signing ourselves up to. Questions to ask ourselves:
- Do we have to respond to everyone?
- Must we respond instantly? Or must we comply with the timeline of the sender?
- Can we not set autoreply when we are actually at work and performing deep work?
Often the trivial stuff are the ones that compose of 80% of your mailbox and can be ignored (because someone else would be happy to take them up to feel productive); we ought to reserve our attention to the 20% that are the ones we should be handling.
Easy to say that; we have to create a system to manage all that expectation and have the competence to develop the right reputation so that we put most of the work upfront on the sender.