I Like the 21st Century Better When I Limit My Role in It

February 12, 2010 at 3:50 am | Posted in Productivity, Work Life | Leave a comment


Unless you'd like to see my head explode, don't page me if nothing's on fire.

I’m not the Unibomber, and I don’t live in a cave, but, man, curtailing my computer time has improved my sense of connection. Today I will take that as my topic, on the theory that it’s not only interesting but a huge mood boost.

Where to start? I’ll begin with my scheme for improving communications at work. Two days ago I acted with remarkable audacity for the mouse-me, approaching our crusty Program head with a suggestion: Why not ask everyone to make a list of the media they use, ranked by preference and average response time? I also thought we should each explain how to contact us in a true emergency.

My reasoning should be familiar by now. To wit, the best way to reach people depends on their circumstances and preferences. Those with BlackBerries like emails since they can read them in meetings. For the IT folks, paging makes sense since they’re never at they’re desks, and they can’t carry cell phones in the closed areas and labs. I “only” check email three times a day, and reserve my pager for emergencies. In fact, I rarely carry the latter during business hours, since it makes sense to call me at my desk for hot assignments.

He immediately saw what I mean. He could rattle off the preferences of all the people he called regularly, but had no idea about how to find most of us quickly. He also agreed that nothing is more irritating than being pestered with trivialities in a medium that you reserve for emergencies. In fact, he hates to be paged, too. So I sailed off to set my plan in motion. I can’t tell you how much this delighted me. My section head only calls me to castigate me for an error in corporate protocol or drop work on me, in that order. I positively adore the Program now.

What’s next? Suggesting email-free Fridays, of course.

I continue to reap the benefits of face-to-face communication, too. Yesterday presented more of a challenge, because I had tease out a series of potentially production-stopping issues, which entailed trotting from office to office and building to building to gather facts and opinions. It still worked charmingly, though, and as before, I ended up having a series of valuable incidental conversations.

More later — my alarm went off, which means it’s time to wrap it up.

Love to all.


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