It Works: Stories From The Book

Make the impossible possible

Dave always checked his email first thing in the morning. His rationale was that overnight, colleagues from all over the world were messaging him with demands that he needed to respond to immediately. When I pointed out that they wouldn’t be reading his emails until 4 pm local time at best, he gawked. That just seemed impossible!

So I asked him to form the habit of scanning his emails first, tagging or identifying those that needed focused attention. He set up a folder and would drag them into that. Unless there was something that was absolutely critical, requiring his immediate response, he would get on with the things he had already scheduled for his first two hours. He would review email during or after lunch. Then he would defer some to the next morning, deal with the quick and sometimes mundane emails he had, and respond to overseas requests later in the afternoon, when the recipients were just logging on to work. An unexpected bonus for this was that, when he left the overseas responses until the afternoon when they were online, sometimes a quick phone call or instant message was enough. This began to have a reducing effect on his email overall.

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It Works!

In an actual experiment by the Israeli parole board, three prisoners who had completed around two-thirds of their sentences were ordered to appear before the parole board (consisting of a judge, a criminologist... More
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