Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Phones, PDA's, and Bad Habits

I landed in London today and am happy the volcano seems to be calm for the moment. On my flight over, I read Michael Linenberger's new book and about half-way through writing the review. Meanwhile, I wanted to share an interesting article by Francis Wade on Stepcase Lifehack. The article, "Fight Bad Cellphone Habits for Better Time Management," touches on some interesting points - and some interesting observations.

Francis starts off talking about how a percentage of students in the time management classes he teaches just won't turn off their cell phones, PDA's, etc. for the duration of the class.

None of the people sitting in my classes are emergency room surgeons, firemen or policemen. I am not delivering these programs in a war zone, during a hurricane or in the middle of a tornado.

Yet, they find it absolutely essential to be checking their email every few minutes.

Sounds like an addiction, to me! I know - I've been there - that's why I got the Foursquare monkey off my back a month or so ago (I just noticed I did that on April 1, but it was no joke):

(By the way - haven't touched Foursquare since then and I'm still the mayor of 17 place as of today. Yes, I was hooked.)

Can't get enough...

But it's not just fun stuff like Foursquare, Facebook, and those sorts of things that create compulsive behaviors. Work does just the same thing, and some managers make it worse:
For aspiring micro-managers, it’s easy: simply give the employee the gift of a Blackberry. Then, send them “important” emails at odd hours (5pm is a good choice.) When you don’t get a response within minutes, make a critical comment, and mention their need to improve their time management skills. Praise them for their responsiveness as they inevitably knuckle under in time, and thank them for becoming a good “team player.
I know - I've been on the non-manager end of that, including a written policy from one of my past managers:
It is not my expectation that each person work 100 hours a week, although some weeks may seem like it. I do expect that each of you invest enough hours to get your work done, and done well. I also expect you to ‘check-in’ on e-mail during the weekend, busy periods and when we have critical international activities underway that you may be involved in. We are in a ‘Sun never sets’ mode.

Needless to say, people were obsessively attached to their company-provided Blackberries. And "check in" meant more than that - it meant we were expected to answer within a couple of hours, any time - day or night. Woohoo.

Inspect what you expect

So this article was a good reminder to me to think about:
  • What message am I sending when I get caught up in obsessive email management?
  • What expectations am I sending to my team with my actions?

We shouldn't have to freak out when we aren't on email for a day - do you?