Beautifully decorated board room was ready for the meeting. Every executive was assembled inside the room. The most critical customer was visiting the offices and at the end of the meeting, he would decide the capabilities of the services provided by the company. Some coffee drinkers picked up black coffee and bagel as the meeting was scheduled in the morning hours. The Chief Executive walked in and formally started the meeting. He introduced everyone and gave a brief overview of the objectives of the meeting. He started his presentation with direct eye contact with the customer. Within two minutes, he noticed that the customer was reading an email in his smart phone and started responding to it while looking at the Chief Executive. 10 minutes later, his smart phone started vibrating and he excused himself and informed the executives that he had to take that phone call as it was important. Within an hour after the meeting started, he requested for a 10 minutes break and wanted Wi-Fi connection as he had to check his emails.
Since when we had become so insensitive not respecting others time? This began when the mobile/smart phones, iPads, lap tops and other gadgets started dominating the market making the people addicted to those gadgets. We have to ask a question to ourselves whether we are using them for keeping ourselves up to date on everything that is happening or are we getting addicted to these gadgets and could not take our eyes off from these gadgets? Is it becoming a status symbol showing to others how busy we are?
The other day, I was rushing inside an airport to catch my connecting flight. All of a sudden, I heard a loud voice, “how you doing man? Long time no see?” I along with three others who were walking in front of me turned back only to find a young well dressed man talking into his blue tooth directly looking up front. All of us continued our rush knowing that he was not talking to us but was talking to one of his friends over phone.
My day to day work involves significant amount of reading, strategic thinking, up to date knowledge of what is happening in number of industries, having several conversations over phone, reviewing and editing documents or writing a detailed document to describe the business of our client, preparation of service agreements, etc. that involve a lot of concentrated effort to get it done right and quickly. Earlier, we never used to have email system and there were no pop-ups in the computer. Nowadays, every time, when a new email comes in, it shows up at the bottom of the screen and my monkey mind takes me immediately to that email distracting completely from what I was doing. Sometimes, it is difficult for me to get back to what I was doing initially. Hence for the past 3 years, I have decided that I would look at my emails only three to four times a day and respond to whatever is urgent leaving the rest to be answered later at a specific time.
However, my business partner keeps his outlook open all the time and he calls me right away and asks, “Hey, did you see that email from so and so?” I started telling him now not to call to inform me about emails coming in every 5 minutes as I read them only 3-4 times a day. I am not prepared to expect responses to my emails and voice mails within a few minutes nor I would like others to think that I would be responding to my emails and voice mails within a few minutes. How many of the emails or voice mails I receive require immediate attention and how many are general reports that have no significant bearing in my professional life? I need to find out efficient ways and means to filter my emails and voice mails. If I try to read/listen all the emails/voicemails I receive, I could spend the rest of my life doing just that.
It is time for me to learn to understand what is important. There are a few who leave a voice mail for me in my smart phone and my office phone and when they are not able to reach me, they send me an email. I end up reviewing each one of them which means I am hearing the same message thrice. I am at a point now that gadgets are here for me to do my work efficiently and not to drag me away from doing my work efficiently. They are intended for my convenience and not to inconvenience me. Let me not allow them to take over my life and let them be my little gadgets that I could use whenever I need them.
I would like to end this blog on a lighter vein. There was a guy who was in a crash and the cop showed up and asked him, “Sir. Were you on the phone when you crashed your car?” The guy answered, “Yes, officer. I was trying to make a quick 15 minutes call to save 15% or more on my car insurance.”