This week I decided to start tracking my time. Tired of weeks going by with a growing wish list of projects to achieve, it was time to figure out exactly where hours, days and weeks were being siphoned.
It took me seconds to have Toggl up and running on my Chrome browser, with a few very basic categories to group my projects into.
I must confess it was oddly pleasurable to record every little element of my overwhelming days. From emails, to reviewing projects my employees are working on, to talking to clients and other people on the phone, everything got recorded to give structure to that mystery that’s my time.
And you know what I discovered?
50% of my days, yes I said 50%, go to emails. As quickly as I answer them, they appear in my inbox, like bunnies unabashedly reproducing and replicating. By the time I got to the bottom of my inbox, all those fresh unread answers were sitting impatiently at the top of my inbox.
Is this normal? Do you, also, find yourself nursing your inbox All. Day. Long?
Seems rather unproductive if you ask me. At the end of the day, my long wish list of projects was just as neglected as before, and even though I was busy every minute of they day, I had an empty feeling that nothing got done.
Thinking in Bullets
At the end of an email-packed day, you know what else I noticed? Words had become a commodity. My brain has learned to parse written and spoken words, pulling out all non-essential characters and looking for those bullet points that were at the core of every sentence.
My emails consist of one-liners affirming, denying, confirming, rejecting, approving. Forget the niceties of social communication. No hello, goodbye, or how are you. Just – is this done? When will it be done? Yes, can do. Will get to it. Very soon. More links, I know.
Text messages, emails, Facebook updates…all designed to convey an affirmation as quickly as possible, in as few characters as possible.
Is social media changing our brain chemistry? I can’t help but wonder if the dendritic connections in my brain are becoming shorter, those grooves becoming shorter and deeper, designed for short rapid bursts, losing their capacity for in-depth sentences. Will emotions follow? Will we start feeling in bullets soon? No more prose, no more poetry…just short, to the point bullets.
The Side Effects of Social Media
I know I’m not the only one. I see my friends, with whom I used to speak in long sentences, reverting to quick 5-7 word text messages. Clients who used to write long paragraphs in their emails send much shorter, to the point emails.
And for busy entrepreneurs, is there a choice? So much to do. Can we really spend hours crafting carefully constructed emails with all of the nuances of the Jane Austen era, when words were weapons and tools? Are words losing their power as they become more and more expensive? Requiring a greater investment to be consumed?
During a meeting with a fellow social media marketer, we both marvelled at the fact that we both now search for content in infographics. Neither of us have the time, energy or patience to read through and decipher loooong articles. We want the in-depth content, but we want it chewed up, pretty, and easy to digest/understand. And guess what? We’re not the only ones:
So what’s the point?
- Track your time
- Install software like ActiveInbox to prioritize your emails
- Spend less time answering emails
- Set aside time for those big projects waiting in the sidelines
- Take time away from bullets to experience the beauty of full sentences, to remember what life was like before smart phones, Twitter, and social media. I know, it’s hard to remember, but it really wasn’t that long ago, and bullets get old really fast.
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