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time & attention

we saw merlin mann last night at the union theater.
he had a lot of poignant remarks about managing time, *really* considering priorities, refraining from doing things that a monkey/robot/shell script could do (even suggesting building a robot/shell script or buying a monkey to do said things).
one thing he pointed out was that outlook, entourage, and are set, by default, to check for new mail every 5 minutes. that means you could have been interrupted by email 24,000 times last year; this is only applied to an 8-hour work-day; and with the advent of iphones and blackberries and push notifications, you can be inundated with email in real time.
he had another interesting observation… when you get an email from someone asking you to do something, the sender considers it a little pebble, “here is a pebble, deal with it. it’s just a pebble, jerk. why aren’t you doing something with it right now?” the sender has no idea (and maybe even doesn’t care) how many other pebbles (or rocks and boulders) you’re dealing with at that moment. and that’s the problem with email; you can compose an email and expect it to be dealt with just because you hit [send].
he also said that prioritizing email is like alphabetizing your recycling bin. and a priority isn’t really a priority unless it’s dealt with and done; a list of tasks is just that. and no one cares what’s on your list.