I was on the road travelling and working for the past two weeks. Sometimes sleeping on planes and working from airports, sometimes at conferences – I did five events in those two weeks involving four talks and one where I was doing the official social media coverage.
During this time, my email stacked up. If you have been waiting for me to reply to something then I apologise. Today was my first proper day in front of my desk for a couple of weeks and I have nearly 500 messages in my inbox today and about 350 of those are unread.
I probably get the same amount of email as most professionals. A few important mails, a few that can wait, and a lot of junk… whether it’s actual spam or just notifications about this or that on ebay or the social networks.
But email takes time. Each mail has to be read, even just to decide whether to delete or file it. I now hate it when companies email me press releases when they could be using a social network such as Twitter – I can see far more quickly on Twitter whether something is worth pursuing or not.
At least I don’t organise my time by email. I know of many people whose working day is dictated by what arrives in the inbox… I usually have a to-do list that has nothing to do with the arriving email.
But everywhere I have been travelling on my journey has had connectivity, so in theory I could have been checking my mails in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. But the reality is that when travelling on business, your time is packed with more important things than sitting in front of a list of emails. The day, from breakfast to dinner is usually packed with meetings or talks or other work.
But if this prioritisation of time is how I behave when travelling, then the obvious question has to be, why do I suddenly have time to deal with the deluge of email when I get back to the office or my home?
If my time is too valuable when on the road, then surely it is even more valuable when I am working hard on the things that I get paid for.
So here is a new resolution for 2012. I’m going to spend a short amount of time, maybe 15-20 minutes at the start and end of each working day, checking for important email. Anything else I don’t have time for is just going to get binned.