Avoiding the e-valanche

Just about everyone can relate to the challenge of trying to get work done in the face of an endless torrent of emails and the expectations of constant availability and immediate response. Yet the reality is that this situation is incompatible with completing work that requires extended focus (which is to say, most work).

We realized that we had to try something. Thus, from time to time, you might email someone at goodcounsel and receive an automatic response like this:

Thank you for your email. While I am in the office today, I will not be reviewing my email (if your matter is urgent, please re-forward your email to me beginning with the word “Urgent” and your message will receive priority attention).

Why, you ask? Very good question, as everyone’s business these days is driven by email. In an effort to boost our productivity for all of our clients, we are designating periodic days to close down email for most of the day, so that we can devote ourselves exclusively to projects (perhaps including yours) that require focus and concentration for extended periods. Today is one such day.

I will respond to most non-urgent messages beginning tomorrow morning. Thank you for your understanding of our efforts to deliver high-quality work.

The idea here, of course, is to demonstrate (to ourselves, most of all) how much more we might achieve without constant distractions, and ultimately to incorporate this approach into daily practice. Not that we would shut email down every day, all day, but we can at least be more disciplined about creating boundaries, e.g., checking and replying to emails on the hour or at other predefined times during the work day. Without a doubt, there’s an app for that.

UPDATE: As usual, Lifehacker has some good suggestions.

Categorised as: Lawyering

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