Saturday, February 25, 2012


1. The Skinner box of the present is email. You press the bar, and out pops a new message; if it doesn't, you press it again, and again, and again. Doesn't matter if you don't want to act on the messages; the process is addicting. If you make a pact with yourself not to check email for a couple of days (a weekend or whatever), the first hour is hard, and the rest are easy. Unless I'm expecting to hear from the Nobel Prize committee-and I understand that they call you rather than emailing--there's nothing that can't wait for a while.

If you do walk away from the Skinner box for a while, you will become calmer and your concentration will be better.

If you walk away and only check email after a day or two, you will be surprised at how fast you can respond to everything. You'll reply and move on rather than looking at it, thinking about a message, signing out, logging in, thinking about it, etc. before replying.

If you have colleagues who like to send you reports or action items late on Friday, which (ahem!) might tend to make you feel martyred, as in "why should I spend my weekend responding to you?" pay attention next time to when Friday colleague gets back to you if you do respond over the weekend; 95% of the time it isn't till Monday, even if you spend Saturday in crafting your response. A slow learner, I finally realized that I don't have to respond until Monday, either. I also realized that Friday colleague doesn't necessarily expect me to respond over the weekend. What can I tell you? I'm a slow learner.

2. What you can do with this non-Skinner box time is write, especially once you realize that the world will still turn on its axis and that your colleagues are not necessarily waiting for you to respond.

3. Not to mix a metaphor, but the blogosphere is the cookie or the M & M that awaits you if you get your writing done. If you read blogs before your writing is done, they will not taste the same, because you will be consuming them with guilt sauce rather than "job well done!" sauce.


nicoleandmaggie said...

heehee! YES.

Ink said...

LMAO! So great.

I SWEAR that not five minutes ago, I thought "Well, I could answer this on Monday instead" and closed the email.

Sisyphus said...

Now I want M&Ms, damn you all!


undine said...

nicoleand maggie, Ink--Thanks! It is totally true. Listen to this from Time magazine: "Short bursts of dopamine that come from things like e-mail make it hard to focus on long-term goals."
Sisyphus--so do I!