Monday, November 24, 2008

Are you a bargain?

How easily do you give away your time and attention? Have you ever considered the cost of obtaining your time and attention? I’ll bet that most people give it away for next to nothing.


If you pass a colleague and they ask you for $100 the first thing that you’re going to ask them is probably, “What for?”. However, if someone comes to you and wants to interrupt you most people allow it automatically, for no charge. Even worse, it doesn’t even have to be a person that gets your time and attention for next to nothing, it can be a machine.


By default what happens when a new email arrives? Your machine goes ‘ding’ and you may see something flash on the screen. That’s your machine interrupting you. Most people typically stop what they are doing and like the ‘Pavlovian dog’ go and check to see what the email is about Problem is, the ‘ding’ isn’t very smart is it? Any email that arrives will solicit the same response from your computer. Sure, you may get a small preview, but does that actually prevent you from checking it? In most cases it makes it more likely because you want to see the whole message! Human beings are curious creatures. So, you’ve now allowed anyone, anywhere at anytime to interrupt you. It could be your boss, your partner, your mother or a spammer, it does matter. They all make the computer go ‘ding’ and obtain your attention. Should they all have the same access and priority? How cheap are you?


Wanna actually get something done? Maybe its time to challenge the defaults you currently accept. Why does your email program have to check email every 5 minutes? Maybe 15, 30 or even 60 is more productive. Here’s a radical thought, set the defaults to ‘manual’ so you can check the email when YOU choose! Why do you need to be notified of every email the instant it arrives? Why do you allow your machine to interrupt you with noises, flashing signs and the like when most of what you receive in email does not warrant immediate instant attention. You are giving low priority stuff much greater priority than it deserves. How cheap are you?


Don’t believe me? Try turning off all the notifications and increasing the retrieve times for email. Better yet, try a morning when you have something important to do, even a few hours, without opening your email program at all and see how much more you get done. If it works then maybe you’ve become too cheap and need to re-evaluate the value of your time and attention, because guess what? They’re far more valuable than you think, because they’re FINITE!