In my earlier post I explained how 2016 is a year of experimentation for me. Each week I will conduct a new experiment and will also write-up the result of the previous weeks experiment.
In addition to the small experiments, I am also seeking to develop new habits. Here I am focusing on one new habit per month. I am expecting some failures, so I have developed a list of only 6 new habits that I wish to develop in 2016. This allows me an 8 week window per habit!
The experiments and habits will be focused on improving my physical, mental and work performance.
Experiment #02 No TV (framing)
The purpose of the experiment was to see if I “removed” all TV watching from my routine? How much time can I win back and what can I do with that time. Read. Write. Who knows?
(Additional notes – read for context) I would be of the view that I don’t watch much TV. But, when I look at the cold hard facts, I probably watch 30 minutes of news most evening, and then the overflow of stuff that might come along with the TV being on – say another hour. Then add a movie per week at 2 hours. That is 7*1.5 + 2, a total of 12.5! That can be! Or can it? It seem enormous. In addition to that is the loss of the block of time between 7:30pm and 10:30pm that is interrupted. That can now be used for something better. Whatever better turns out to be!
By removing TV I open up the evening routine to a total re-engineer that will accommodate some of the new habits I wish to develop. A little suspense is good.
Experiment #01 No iPhone email – Write Up
My write up on experiments will follow the format outlined below each week. So now to the week without email on my iPhone or iPad!
The purpose of the experiment was to see if I “removed” Mail(all email checking) from my iPhone and iPad, what would the net benefit be to my overall productivity.
By removing two “convenient” methods of checking email (iPhone & iPad), I could wean myself down to checking email 2-3 times a day and win back valuable time.
(Additional notes – read for context) I process about 50-60 emails per day (excluding subscriptions). I have email on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook. A quick audit of my email habit indicated that I checked at least hourly. And it has the potential to suck you in. This was leading to an interruption of deep working sessions. A break at the end a 60 minute session often lead to 30 minutes of email!
I used Rescue Time to measure the frequency and amount of time in email (Gmail on Chrome with “Inbox Pause”).
- Step 1: Remove all email accounts from iPhone and iPad (felt a little scary but very soon became liberating)
- Step 2: Install RescueTime – this also required tweaking of categories and association of work with these categories. A little frustrating at the beginning, but now the usefulness of information I get from the dashboard is great.
- Step 3: Decide when to check email and how. I decided that I would process email fully when I went into my Inbox. (Additional notes – read for context) I did not want to have the distraction of new emails arriving as I processed my email. The shiny new thing is just too alluring. To avoid this, I use “Inbox Pause”, a chrome extension that pauses new emails being populated into my Inbox. At the end of my email session, I “Unpause” and that’s it. Processing means getting the emails in my inbox to zero. If there is any action associated with the email, I either do it there and then, or add it to my “to-do” list. I then trash or archive the email. Archiving is a simple decision point. If I want to keep the email for reference, then I simply put it in the “Reference” or Travel folder/label. If I need to refer back to the email as part actioning it, I store it in one of 4 folders – End of Day, End of Week, End of Month, End of Quarter. I always make sure these are empty at the end of the day/week/month or quarter. The environment that I have set up is very important to keeping me on track.
- Step 4: Measure. Rescue time measures how much time I spend in Gmail. In addition, I have looked at how well I get to Zero and the number of times I check email. A total of 3 metrics, time, success (y/n) and count.
- Step 5: Make sure I process each “folder” to zero based on time interval and action any tasks in my “to-do” list.
- Step 6: Use the time won back!
- It feels a little scary removing email accounts from your phone and tablet
- Checking email has just become another task as opposed to a “fix”
- Limiting the number of times I check, means I have to get the email processed within one of those two times
- Twice a day is enough for me to check email. It does take a discipline of actioning the items, otherwise you will end up with overwhelm
- I find that I have won back a lot of time. The total time on the computer has been reduced down to about 4 hours per day.
– Gmail – best days 22 minutes, worst day 54 minutes
– Zero Inbox – 6/6 (I have allowed myself the discretion to decide on whether to check email on a Sunday or not!)
– email check frequency – best – twice, worst – four time (only once)
– I had no baseline RescueTime results to compare against, but anecdotal evidence suggests that I spend about 1 hour a day less on my iPhone checking email (10-12 sessions of 3-4 minutes). I will not be putting email back on my iPhone or iPad.
I would say that it was a success and I look forward continuing to process email properly on my main computer. Your thoughts?
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