Friday, October 12, 2007

E-mail Free Fridays?

Read an interesting segment at Christopher Null's Working Guy blog today.

In a nutshell, a group at Intel is instituting e-mail free Fridays. They recommend employees forego e-mail in favor of a phone call or a walk to their co-workers office. (This also fits with the increased emphasis on corporate health and fitness in some companies!)

I like this idea! Being an e-mail/forum/blog IM junkie, I'm going to try it.

E-mail Free Fridays pose a few unique challenges for freelance writers, at least until everyone in my circle knows the situation. I'd hate to miss an assignment because I didn't answer an e-mail (and that keeps the editor waiting over the weekend, too). And, of course, if story assignments are due, I have to e-mail those in. So here are my rules:

* I will check e-mail only once in the morning, at lunch, and before I finish for the day.

* I will scan e-mails, and respond to any that I can with a phone call.

* If they can't be replied to by phone, and are not urgent, (ie, assignment-related) they don't get answered until Monday.

* Story submissions may be e-mailed. And query letters. But that's it.

* Additionally, I may post to my blog, but not check to see if I received any comments (which I do compulsively!)

* Forums and AIM are completely off-limits. Blogs are okay, ONE visit per blog. (ie, no comment conversations for the day).

I don't have any fear of the phone, but I think this would be a great exercise for writers who try to avoid the phone, too. I'm curious to see if I get any more work done on Fridays with these rules instituted.

I'm starting now by turning off AIM.

Anyone going to join me?


Virginia Lee said...

If I were in an office every day I'd love this idea. In my current situation, however, I don't really need to do it. That may change, of course.

Good luck with this, Dawn! And to anyone else implementing this plan.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good, but I think they mean totally no email - so no checking at all. Like you say that for a writer is very difficult.

I for one simply could not do it, but perhaps I can just ease off for the day. Funny how we are all so dependent on this technology that not that long ago did not even exist.

Steve Davis

Dawn Allcot said...

Yup, that's what *they* mean--no e-mail. But I know I have a bit of an e-mail addiction, and this may help me curb that. The original challenge doesn't mention anything about IM or blogs or forums, either, so I'm actually doing more (and less), which evens it out. ;)

I'm not risking missing a deadline or losing out on an assignment by skipping e-mail altogether on Friday. Just not practical.

But if I keep this up, my colleagues will realize the best way to reach me on Fridays is by phone...but that will take a while.

My main goal with this experiment is to learn how to not compulsively check my e-mails. If I can start with Just One Day... I'd like to taper off to only checking e-mails three or four times a day, every day.

Then again, it could turn out that phone calls suck up even more time. One thing I like about e-mail is that it's expedient.

So we will see! I'm hoping it will leave me free to focus on *writing* (more so than research or networking) on Fridays. As a freelance writer, ironically, caring out time to simply write can be a challenge!

plaidearthworm said...

I tried something similar after reading an essay in Poets & Writers. I kept my computer off during the weekends, and I felt more relaxed because of it. Trouble is, when work piles up I need the extra weekend time to catch up and be less stressed through the week, so it's a 50-50 deal. So I've negotiated with myself for one day every two weeks that belongs just to me: the computer stays off, and I go for a walk, putter around, or just stay in bed and read all day (the ultimate luxury!). That way, I don't feel guilty about working weekends when I have to do it.

Mysti said...

It's a great idea. I, actually, have begun a process similar to this.

I was part of many different forums covering various subjects from parenting to writing and on to the spiritual side of things. All in all, there were 17 forums I was active on. I've gone through and consolidated.

There are now 4 forums I check out, one of which I'm a moderator. I have also limited my time on the three forums I'm simply a member. I will read and respond to the few posts that catch my eye and post only as I absolutely feel compelled. This, in itself, has freed a great deal of time for more important aspects of my life.

I've also let go of two blogs I was was avidly posting on and have stopped posting near as often on my third (compilation blog.) I'm only posting as absolutely necessary, even though that particular blog has been listed on google trends for a month. Though a toss to keep that blog going strong or allowing it to subside, having time to put elsewhere has already shown to be a wise move on my part.

I once was a chat-a-holic as well. Now, I'm limiting myself to 1 hour of chat time at night after my son is in bed. I've found that limiting my time has made for more productive conversations and a higher quality.

Email that once reigned over my day has now become a minuscule fraction of the time once spent. I awake in the morning and check my email, once in the afternoon/evening and once before heading to bed. The amount of time has now dropped drastically; spending no more than an hour and a half total per day on emails.

My time is much better spent now with my family. Our relationships have grown by leaps and bounds with the changes in the way I spend my time.

I wish you the best of courage in your endeavor. The internet can be quite addictive. You're making a fantastic step in the right direction by spending quality time as opposed to a large quantity.

wordsmith said...

So that's where you were Friday. ;)
That sounds like a great idea--I love how you've translated it to makes sense for the life of us freelance writers. I don't think I could do it though, not yet anyway...especially not checking forum's my electronic water cooler/staff lounge. LOL.
Lots of luck with making it work! You'll have to keep us posted on the success of the freelancer's version of e-mail-free Fridays. :)

Dawn Allcot said...

Thanks everyone for the comments! Well, last Friday was easy--I was in Maine at a wedding and wouldn't have had time to check e-mail if I wanted to.

This Friday, I must confess, I *forgot* about my promise until around noon... but I had interviews scheduled all morning, so I did pretty well without even realizing it. I didn't chat on AIM, and I only visited AW once. :)
The bad part was, I was waiting for a response from an editor about an article i just submitted (to make sure she received it and it was satisfactory) so around 1 PM I fell back into my "compulsively checking e-mail" rut.
I should have just phoned her... which I will do next time. :)


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