A modest proposal: eliminate email

The concept is simple. Employees no longer have personalized email addresses. Instead, each individual posts a schedule of two or three stretches of time during the day when he or she will be available for communication. During these office hours, the individual guarantees to be reachable in person, by phone, and by instant messenger technologies like Slack. Outside of someone’s stated office hours, however, you cannot command their attention. If you need them, you have to keep track of what you need until they’re next available.

On the flipside, when you’re between your own scheduled office hours, you have no inboxes to check or messages demanding response. You’re left, in other words, to simply work. And of course, when you’re home in the evening or on vacation, the fact that there’s no inbox slowly filling up with urgent obligations allows a degree of rest and recharge that’s all but lost from the lives of most knowledge workers today.

This is from an HBR article by Cal Newport. You can and should follow his blog.

I want to hear what you think… particularly the ways in which you can make this (or some version of it) work. Drop me a note using the “Contact me” button on the ruler.

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Start with the light

Doc Searls on his blog.

So where does [architect] Bill Patrick start, working unassisted by computer?

“I start with the light,” he says. “I say ‘where do we want the light?'”

We wanted our light coming from the direction of our hilltop view toward San Francisco Bay. We also wanted to enjoy that light outdoors as well as inside the house. The result is a lot of glass on every floor facing the Bay, and a deck or balcony outside every room on the Bay side the house. The roof is nearly flat, to maximize interior space within the local limits on roof height above grade, and the whole thing is not only beautiful, but unlike anything else, anywhere. It expresses Bill’s art, and it reflects our original intentions.

In other words, it’s a creation, not a replication or a variation. I also can’t imagine seeing this house as a template for anything else.

The same principle applies for any communicative act – letter, email, text, talk, presentation, etc. Start with the light; with what the purpose of the act is. And work backwards from there.

More here.

Less time does not promote deeper thought

mailboxes

[T]he more urgently technology incentivizes us to respond to a proposition, the more we rely on our own heuristics. Less time does not promote deeper thought.

Today, when you are compelled to comment right away, ask yourself, “How would I respond to this differently if I had to invest the time and effort to get an envelope and a stamp?”

via James Shelley – photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina

The blind side of networks

Twitter will suggest that you listen to people who listen to each other. Amazon will suggest that you read something very much like what you just read. Even your search engine will try to make sure that you get results that are similar to the ones you clicked on last time. If you go with the flow, you’ll end up hearing the same narrow view recycled repeatedly – yet you’ll think you did your due diligence.

Don’t fool yourself.

Gather information from those who do not communicate with one another. In fact, you want to gather information from entire networks that do not communicate with one another. Truly rich and diverse information comes only when you hear, separately and independently, from “worlds” that do not overlap: from different parts of the earth, different economic sectors, different social demographics, different religions, languages, ideologies and cultures.

via Think You’re Well Connected? Stop Fooling Yourself.

Social networking – a shared anxiety

What I want is to be creative. I want the tools to serve me, not the other way around.

I’m getting absolutely nothing significant done, but I’m supposedly “busy” all the time. And it’s all driven by a shared anxiety: if we don’t keep up, we’ll be left behind; if we don’t flock over here with the Crowd, we’ll lose our audience and no one will talk to us or listen to us anymore.

We’re not so sure they’re listening now…maybe we’d better issue another Tweet or Post or Dent and make sure they’re there.

(Source: cassandrapages.com)

In praise of procrastination

Too many people fail to recognise what good public speakers and comedians all understand: that success depends on knowing when to delay, and for how long. The important thing is not to do things first but to do them right. And doing them right often involves taking a bit more time.

via Schumpeter.

Business buzzwords generator at the WSJ

Our modest contribution to horizontally push the envelope for thought leaders: Business Buzzwords Generator