Anthony Haynes writes: It’s morning, the beginning of the working day. Your colleagues come into the office one by one. They position their coffee cups on their desks; they switch on their computers; and then what do they do?
Yup, that’s right: they ‘do’ their emails. The next — how long? half an hour? 45 minutes? whatever — is a festival of reading, replying, forwarding, deleting.
There are two problems with this scene of busy-ness — one minor and one major.
The minor one is that the attempt to clear emails before focusing on the engineering projects that are envisaged to form the focus of the working day is self-defeating, because by the time you’ve ‘done’ your email, people will have begun to reply to your replies and you’ll then find yourself in seemingly perpetual email motion.
The project work slips below the horizon.
The major problem is that one’s prime time will have been squandered. The first hour or so, having woken up during the commute and primed the brain with caffeine — that‘s the time to crack on with the engineering project, so that by the mid-morning coffee break there’s a good chance that you’ll have achieved the biggest thing on your to-do list for today.
Take-home message: engineering first; clerical work later.