Today’s Sunday Telegraph carries a light news article which reveals that the Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, has let it be known (or his governmental private office has) that his Ministerial Red Box / In Tray will close at 3pm Monday to Thursday and Noon on a Friday.
Now it’s important to stress that every Government Minister is going to get every important message 24/7 – I know, I worked for a couple. Nor does it mean that the workload will reduce, it won’t. Those action memorandums, letters, briefing papers, speech drafts will still arrive just they will so earlier in the day, or be submitted the next morning.
What it does bring to the process is a little bit of discipline and compartmentalisation.
We have becoming hopelessly addicted to the new piece of information. We allow it to roll in unfettered and have conditioned ourselves to respond immediately out of fear that if we don’t, someone else will and chaos will ensue.
It’s madness of course.
The discipline of switching one’s focus to the ‘main event’, free from disturbance is critical if we are to perform tasks of any real value.
We should not worry about the consequences of saying “Actually I don’t have a moment can I get back to you tomorrow.”. In response to a ‘drive by’ from a well meaning colleague. Those emails will pile up until tomorrow.
(SIDE THOUGHT – If only there was intelligent software that could read the contents and make a judgement on if you should see this email immediately. Sadly the urgent exclamation flag is much abused by people who do not understand the difference between ‘important’ (few things are) and urgent (everything seems to be but is rarely.)
I suspect the rule of 3 will be observed more in the breach but it’s worth the attempt, perhaps even extending to the avoidance of meeting acceptances in the late afternoon. No new work, just solving the challenges and delivering on the opportunities of what’s in front of you.
Good luck Mr Clegg and all of us who might be thinking of giving this a whirl.