These days, most of our clients and we ourselves use Gmail for work – but those of you still on Outlook and all of us who used it in years past surely remember the “Send/Receive” button. In 2007: You’d click it furiously in the hopes that a big outbound email with six attachments would actually leave your Drafts folder and enter the Sent folder in time for a deadline. You’d click it mindlessly in anticipation of a new message new hitting your Inbox. It gave you a sense of postmaster control, and it fostered the addiction.
The button is no longer needed, but the concept can teach us a thing or two. My guess is that you spend much or even most of your day in the Receive lane. Emails come into your inbox (or Slacks come into your channels, or texts come into your phone – you get the idea), and you receive and react. Gotta stay on top of that inbox! Maybe you’re even an inbox zero person!
But – When your time and attention are controlled by what you are receiving, someone else is setting the agenda.
I’d like to ask you to change lanes. For one day.
Pick a day and put yourself squarely in the Sending lane. Clear your workspace, make a coffee or tea, close your laptop and put your phone out of reach. Then consider these questions: What are you trying to advance and accomplish? What are you eager to make or see happen? How are you moving the needle on goals?
For one day, you only Send. You don’t Receive. Messages will keep coming, sure. But if you have permission – indeed, the imperative – not to read them. On this day, nobody else is setting your agenda. You are. You are sending ideas, intent, copy, requests, updates, invites out into the ether. You are concentrating on your most important work, and as a result, others will as well.Those of you still on Outlook and all of us who used it in years past surely remember the “Send/Receive” button…
If you lead a team or an organization, you can decide when you want to try this. Generally, you’re in control of your own schedule. Consider also the rest of your team. I encourage you to create the flexibility for them to do so, as well. It will make them feel appreciated and supported, and it will help them do their best work – which both you and they want. Powerful CEO moment where you both give leaders the permission to be in the send lane AND encourage leaders to grant that same permission to their team.
It’s not to say that you should neglect your emails entirely, let more than twenty four hours pass before responding (the norm we strive for at Matterlab), avoid your colleagues or shirk collaboration happening through your communication channels. It’s just a one day experiment to see what shifts – in your work patterns, in your thought patterns, in your focus, and in the momentum that you create around your most important work.
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