In fact, it was his emails that kept us away from doing the work, because all we were doing was just reading and answering them.
So, we have built a dashboard that allowed us to show to the client the progress we’re making in real time without any involvement. It took us about an hour to do so, and, in a week’s time, the email rate dropped so considerably that we were finally able to get the work done.
We still don’t have a digital etiquette as to how people can best contact you, so you can get an equally important message via WhatsApp, Skype, email, you name it.
The moral is you need to heavily manage people’s expectations as to how they can contact you. For example, before I meet somebody, I ask them to send me a text message if anything changes. Because I don’t have Internet on my phone. And it works really well.
What do you do, however, if you work for a company that expects you to be connected and on top of everything for 24/7?
Well, first things first, stop contributing to this mess by cc’ing everyone. If you want to receive fewer emails, send fewer emails.
Second, you might want to mention a few statistics to your colleagues and bosses. For example, a study by Harvard Business School that said that consultants, knowledge workers, who had predictable time off throughout the week performed much better and were much more productive than those who didn’t.
Or, you can quote an example of a few companies. For example, one of the UK’s leading multinationals recently introduced a two-hour-per-week email ban for all senior management in the interest of productivity.
Or a current German car manufacturer does not allow sending or receiving emails 30 minutes after the employee’s shift has ended.
If this doesn’t help, then you can try moving to a different country, like France and Brazil where they have now the so-called rights to disconnect laws, where that, among other things, regulate whether the person has the right not to read work-related emails after the working hours.
Self-management is the last cornerstone of changing your digital behavior, and the most tricky part. Because it does not help, it doesn’t work, if you prohibit yourself from going online. Because your brain still needs the excitement of dopamine.
So, instead, you need to be thinking about where you will take this dopamine from? What will you do with all this free time that all of a sudden you will have available?
And this is where I want to share with you my last key learning, and why I think I failed for so long to give up my smartphone. I just did not want to deal with my own problems.
When you don’t have anything that distracts you, then you will have to start dealing with the stuff you have been running away from.
We often go online not because we need to, but because we have some internal trigger to do that. Maybe we want to feel Important, or maybe we are depressed.
In fact, a study by Missouri University of Science and Technology says exactly that, that people who spent a lot of time online tend to be depressed.
So, the next time you feel an urge to check your device, ask yourself: What is really triggering me to do that?
Is there something I’m trying to avoid feeling or thinking about?
Once you get a life, and a natural source of dopamine, you won’t need anything to distract yourselves from yourselves.