I was having one of those days where whatever I started went wrong or led to three other things that needed doing more urgently so when Hannah Swift popped up on MSN asking why I hadn't replied to her recent email about a bean bag I'd won courtesy of Bean Bag Bazaar and I had to confess it was just one more thing which went wrong - I hadn't seen the email.
Like many affiliates I get hundreds of emails to multiple email accounts every day from networks, agencies, friends, ads, spam and other nasties. I use the excellent Mailwasher Pro (discount code here) to monitor email live on my mail servers which makes it easy to react in near real-time to any incoming mail needing urgent attention BUT only if I'm at my desk and on the case. When I'm out of the office or not paying attention and I run a send/receive/delete email cycle without checking for urgent emails first everything ends up in Outlook where mail rules organise them neatly into black holes and hyperspace folders containing in excess of 35 THOUSAND unread emails.
The only way I can find emails in Outlook now is to do a google desktop search and frankly things are so bad I'm giving up on email.
I've been trying to improve my workflow and productivity and have been inching ever-closer to a paperless office. As part of that process I've been using online services like Google Apps, Evernote and Mobile Me so I can work online anywhere and still have access to my resources from anywhere on a laptop - which in itself is part of a longer term plan to be entirely mobile at around the same time my kids all leave home.
Tim Ferriss' inspirational blog includes a similar tale of email woe. Tim's solution is to "accept that small bad things will happen" and not to worry about it. That's certainly an interesting approach but what about the small good things? If two wrongs don't make a right surely ignoring bad emails risks the wrath of the karma gods and the good emails will dry up too?
So my new cunning plan is to tell everyone NOT to send me important emails any more which just leaves unimportant emails and spam which I can safely ignore - tada!
I must admit I'm feeling quite pleased with myself so please don't go picking holes in my plan.
Getting rid of email is just the latest in a long line of hermit-like strategies I've deployed to free up more "me time." My fax machine ran out of paper years ago so I put it in the loft, feel free to try and communicate with it if you like.
The telephone is another comms device I've mentally consigned to history. I do still have one, but I generally don't answer it unless I know who's calling (of course I have caller ID enabled and an answerphone) and I do sometimes have a weak moment listening to anyone brave enough to leave an answerphone message and pick up but it's usually just to abuse and taunt hapless callers.
The answerphone message relayed by digital Dorothy says I'll get back to you but she's telling porkies. After several attempts at recording my own message inviting people to leave a message I decided she/it strikes just the right blend of FOAD I was looking for - feel free to give her a listen on 01206 835032 during office hours.
If you REALLY need to tell me to do something or NOT to do something I'd like to encourage you to chat with me by MSN, it's immediate, I usually reply if I'm about or later when I have time - it's a virtual post-it slapped on my monitor so there's no better way to grab my attention. MSN also keeps a record of conversations so there's every opportunity to incriminate or contradict yourself and my blackmail folder is growing steadily! My MSN address is joe(at)cantbarsed.com.
I also like to communicate sporadically on the a4u forum where I post as renegade, on Twitter and on Facebook so there are still plenty of ways to get hold of me pretty much anytime.
I believe Howard Hughes became a recluse suffering from OCD after accumulating his millions so now I'm washing my hands even more often and restricting myself to virtual human contact it's surely only a matter of time before I accumulate some millions too?
Happy New Year
4 weeks ago