The Curse of 'Instant' Response

What happens when the bosses expect an instant reply to their email or Slack messages?

Let me convince you that this common behavior is ‘Stage 1 cancer’.

To instantly respond, people have to constantly interrupt themselves to check emails/Slack. When their attention is so badly fragmented, they can’t do any thoughtful or creative work. They are just busy.

Soon enough, everyone expects the same instant response from everyone else, and this cancer goes from Stage 1 to Stage 2.

By constantly being on hair-trigger alert to react, we are training our brains to prioritize the urgent over the important. And most of this urgency is fake and made-up, anyway.

The result is that people are busy, stressed, and yet, unable to use their talents and do their best work.

But how does one handle genuinely urgent stuff?

Here is the key: When I interrupt someone to seize their attention, I am consuming a precious resource. Hence I should be just as thoughtful as when using the company budget.

What if we check emails every 2-3 hrs or even every hour? Won’t it be a huge improvement over the current mess? For more urgent stuff, just pick up the phone and call.

Make no mistake - this is cancer. Companies need to start chemotherapy before reaching Stage 3.


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