First day back at work today.
New year, new Covid and all.
Last year I set out on a mission to not check my email before 11 am each day.
I’d first read about this idea of ‘batching’ from Tim Ferriss before I think – in the 4-hour work-week, several years ago.
I thought it was a cool concept to consider that all of us are more effective when we do things in batches all in one go.
Email is a good example of this.
It’s so so easy to get sidetracked by what happens inside your inbox rather than the main focus of your day.
I started out on this journey several months ago – but my need for dopamine stimulation (as my friend Umesh describes it) became too late and I slid back into old ways.
I knew of this idea conceptually – but the only reason I ‘got into it’ in the first place was because of Ross Tavendale andCraig Campbell. These are two guys who specifically don’t check email more than a few times a day and Ross certainly doesn’t check his email before 11am.
As an agency owner – nothing good comes from checking your email before 11am anyway.
It’s not like I have clients who spend a ton of time on email gushing to tell us how well we’re doing for them.
I’ll quickly run through the emails/communication I did receive this weekend that I can recall from memory.
One client who runs an IT education website emailed us twice to tell us how incompetent our WordPress Speed work must be and questioned whether we’re great SEOs or charlatans even though I’d already told him we didn’t have proper CMS access so we couldn’t actually make edits to his site and that my Dev team were away for holidays.
The first time he emailed us to threaten a refund if we didn’t fix things within one week after the new year when I’d promised him fixes across the course of one month.
I’d had to remind him that month included Christmas when the team was away and that we had now been waiting a total of eight days to get login access to his server and domain to resolve some of the speed issues.
Another client in the medical supply space has set up a meeting today to try and convince me to move to a performance only that we only started a couple of weeks back – when his last agency didn’t perform as he hoped and we’re barely 2 weeks into a campaign.
It’s going to be awkward telling him – well ‘no’.
A third client in the jewelry space emailed us to tell us one of the blogs we’d probably written had copied content from another site and was sending garbage traffic and we must remove it.
Turns out we had edited content someone from his team had written and had made a naive assumption they hadn’t copied anything.
We were wrong of course.
A fourth client whose billing just came out said this ‘setup’ wasn’t quite working for him and wants to discuss perhaps with a view to canceling just one month into our agreement.
That’s 4 clients, with nothing but negative news to share…
I shouldn’t have bothered checking my email at all lol.
This was a discussion I had yesterday on the phone with Ross – and a reminder as to why we find agency life so grueling and it’s something that ultimately is painful at the best of times.
Clients have nothing but negative news for you on the whole. It’s rare anyone emails with really good news beyond a ‘great’, ‘well done’.
I tell a lie.
One client who runs an outsourcing agency told us how impressed he was with our work and that we’d achieved his goals far faster than he imagined and so he would be wrapping up the campaign early….
So 5 clients with nothing but ultimately negative news to share.
If you’re a business owner – then this is the life on email that you have to get accustomed to.
It really is tough going emotionally, but also makes you pretty tough when it comes to dealing with stress – that is if you DO cope with it.
Certainly in the agency world anyway, I can’t speak well enough for other spaces.
But fundamentally, our clients are paying us several thousand pounds a month to rank on Google or to generate B2B leads for them and expect big results – which are often time challenging to deliver and/or when they are delivered – not much is said about it overall.
I guess if the shoe is on the other foot (i.e mine) – it’s difficult to email a service provider telling them how happy you are with them.
Part of me loves the life, of course, else I would have bunked out a long time ago (or would I?).
I guess the challenge is, is that to a limited degree – I’m trapped by the income I make as an agency owner and so it’s difficult to extricate myself from the business.
Regardless of this – there are other reasons as well as to why checking your email more than 2x per day (which is what I intend to do now is worthwhile):
- It’ll improve my mood. If I’m not dealing with negativity on email than I’ll be happier
- It’ll improve my focus – one of my other stretch targets for 2021 is to write every day if I can – and email (and Whatsapp) does nothing but take me away from my target
- I’ll get more things done (like this)
- I’m curious to see what (and need to prove to myself) I can be just as an effective business owner checking email only 2x a day. A better business owner even.
- It’ll push me into getting an excellent client relationship manager who can deal with all of the client hooplas that comes from this life
Btw – I’ve turned off all notifications for email – only use a web-app to check email anyway – never used a mail client (maybe that’s part of my problem) and use Freedom.to to actually block unnecessary applications:
I’ve still got 5 hours, 26 minutes left before I actually check anything (11 am – want to aim for that but may stick to 10 am let’s see)
I even canceled a training session I was meant to participate in this morning because I want to move EVERYTHING after 10 am/11 am.
I.e not only no emails. But no meetings/training/anything other than me having time to do things I enjoy – like this.
I just had a Google to take a look at anything interesting that popped up to support my new plan (writing this blog is part of my commitment to myself to stop checking email more than 2x a day – curious to see if it breaks my business – I’ll make a video on this shortly as well I think)
This is from a Mckinsey article
28% of the day checking email?
Wow – that makes email like a social media channel.
Taken from HBR here
Here’s another cool study from Loughborough about the cost of email interruption – it says that it takes 64 seconds to recover from interruptions.
Other research from Gallup says that figure is more like 23 minutes.
Hick’s law is also interesting when you think about HOW you manage your inbox:
Anyway, I’ve just got lost in checking Google to find more evidence to support my decision to check email only 2x per day – and there are even those who don’t check for days at a time.
- Apparently, Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t even use the internet
- Kate Unsworth checks email 1x per day
- John Paul DeJoria doesn’t even use computers
- Warren Buffett doesn’t have a smartphone
- Tom Patterson doesn’t check email during regular business hours
I could go on.
But you get the idea.
I’m signing out now.
1 hour 10 minutes into this.
- (But also in that time I installed the following applications for Safari:
- Responded to one email (I got a push notification from my website about a blog that actually needs to be taken down)
- Have downloaded Big Slur:
And of course, most importantly, have reaffirmed my commitment to check email 2x per day.
Let’s see where we go!