Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

It has been nearly 24 hours without my BlackBerry.  It’s funny.  When dieting, all you can think about is food.  When your BlackBerry is stolen, all you can think about is your Blackberry. 

How much time do we waste as individuals – and organizations – thinking about, and playing with our toys?

I just read David Zinczenko’s “From the Editor” column in this month’s “Men’s Health” magazine.  While in South Africa, he did not have data service, so his BlackBerry did not work.  Here’s what he wrote:

“For the first 24 hours, I was a mess.  I was begging the concierge to open the business center at 3 a.m., so I could keep tabs on what was happening 17 in-flight hours away in New York. I was driving the hotel staff, and myself, a little bit nuts.

“Then something happened on day 4 of my stay. I was shaking out my beach towel – the sun was starting to edge down, my hunger was beginning to rise up, a lobster bake was going on somewhere – and as the grains of sand flew out onto the beach, I realized I had forgotten something.  I had forgotten to check my e-mail.  Indeed, I had forgotten about e-mail entirely for nearly the whole day.  And here’s the funny thing: It was on this vacation that my life changed, in many wonderful ways.  Not the least of which is this: I learned that taking a break from the stress of daily life gives you the resources to better handle it when you return.”

Here’s my 30 day challenge to you:

  1. Lock your BlackBerry away.  Or, if it also serves as your phone, turn off the “data services” so that you can no longer receive email.
  2. Turn off “automatic send/receive” in Outlook.  This way you won’t be notified every time you have email.
  3. Check your email only 3 times a day.  Choose a schedule that works for you.  I do first thing in the morning, lunch time, and end of work day.  If people have been trained to expect instantaneous responses, use an auto-responder to let them know that you are checking email infrequently and that they should call you if it is urgent.
  4. Use the phone to communicate rather than email.  Make personal contact.

This should improve your productivity, increase your ability to stay focused, enhance your relationships, and reduce your stress. 

Well, maybe it will reduce your stress on day 4, when you stop thinking about email.

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for this insightful post. It is amazing how fast we became addicted to the technology. I’m afraid that I’m not able to adhere to your suggestions. Only the thought of it makes me shiver….

  2. Stephen,

    The boundaries of work and life outside work are disappearing. In the relentless quest to stay in touch 24/7, people are trading their free time, their health, and their relationships—the only things that really matter when all is said and done.

    One of my coaching clients told me his wife got upset, because after they were done making love, he turned on the light, grabbed his BlackBerry, and starting reading his email.

    Where will it end?

    The solution is simple. Establish boundaries. As you wrote, turn off the ____________ (insert device of choice).

    To your success,
    Brian Bartes


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