Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Sending email creates more work?
It’s funny how things synchronize. A few days ago, I was catching up on the Get It Done Guy during my morning walk. In Episode 40 Stever Robbins was talking about how sending email can actually cause more work.
He gave an example about shooting an email asking a question: “I was about to email Rosser a question that would give me the mental satisfaction of feeling like I had done something useful. Then the ball would be in Rosser’s court, so I would be morally justified in doing nothing until I heard back.”
Sending email causes more work? Yes! Sometimes it is quicker to do something myself than to send an email asking someone else for information. The lag time between the person getting the email and getting back to me is actually greater than doing it myself. And sending the emails is simply an exercise in volleying the ball back to the other side of the court.
That evening, the following conversation occurred in my house:
Hubby: “Hon, do we have any envelopes so I can send my mom the stuff she left?”
Me: “They’re in the office closet in the box marked ‘paper and envelopes’.”
Hubby, after some shuffling: “I can’t find them. Are you sure they are here?”
Me, going to the closet and opening the box: “They’re right here.” (pulling out the envelope on top of the pile)
Hubby, a few minutes later: “Do you have my mom’s address? I can’t find it in my phone.”
Me, putting down my pen and opening my iPod Touch: (gave him the address, wondering why he couldn’t turn on his computer)
Hubby: “Do you know how much postage this will take?”
Me: “Are you joking? Do I look like a postal employee? Weigh it.”
Hubby: “Can you help me with the scale?”
Me, thinking really ugly thoughts as I turn on the scale, and put the package on it, then read the numbers off the digital display to him. (“Grrrrr”)
Hubby: “What’s the login and password to the Postal Service website? And do you have the URL?”
I gave up trying to write and printed out the postage, which I handed to him with a snarky question about the ability of people with three college degrees to use a glue stick and scissors. That didn’t go over well.
The point here is that my husband thought he was being productive, but in fact he was simply passing off the work to me, diminishing my productivity as well. But the fact was it was easier for him to pester me than to search for an envelope, turn on his computer, figure out what buttons to push on the scale and navigate an unfamiliar website.
I’m not trying to pick on him. I do it as well in many situations and places.
The point here is that in our connected world, sometimes it we think we are being proactive and helpful when in fact we are simply passing the buck. It happens in little ways, all over the place.
Email is also a productivity interrupter, since it requires the person we are emailing to stop what they are doing and respond. And what if they don’t respond? Do you want your task to stall or fail because of someone else?
We feel we are making progress simply by sending the email or asking a question. After all we can pin the blame on someone else if something doesn’t happen in a timely fashion. But as Stever Robbins says, “Do you really want your success to depend on their timely response?“
If we take the time to look up information ourselves or do a task ourselves, we can move forward without depending on anyone else. If it’s a simple but unfamiliar task, it can also give us knowledge to be more independent later.
Do you pass the buck? Share below.
Photo by yomanimus