Every week our team gets together and goes over what we call our ROCs. The ROCs stand for (Results, Objectives and Challenges). Our small team of seven will go around the room: review what we were trying to accomplish for the previous weeks, see how well we did, what our challenges were and set our goals for the next 7 days. We starting doing this after meeting with our mentor who we get together with every two weeks. Every friday we do this and this friday I had some challenges.
My challenge was that there were now so many people to talk to that I was not getting any coding done on our applications. Our support requests, which started at slow 18 months ago has now turned into a monster that demands a full-time person. Most people don’t realize this, but Steven and I have mainly answered every support ticket that has come in together for free all this time. To date we’ve probably answered over 10,000 support tickets in over 500 days.
Last month I spent probably on average around 2-3 days on support and over 30+ hours a week talking to other people. Any more I felt like I couldn’t keep coding if I was distracted talking to everyone. So at this team meeting we’ve decided to take a dramatic approach to this issue; I’ve now been cut off from email entirely and I won’t be handling any more support.
Not using email any more is a somewhat exciting and scary thing at the same time, but with more pros than cons.
It’s scary in that I’ve now let go and someone else is now in control. Support is entirely out of my hands; so I can’t be there to make sure it’s done correctly. I just sort of have to hope it does well, but because our of team I know it’ll get taken care of with the best of our ability. Talking to JV partners and other business relationships are now out of my hands so I have to rely heavily on the ability of our team to talk to everyone else and make sure everything goes accordingly.
And I don’t mean I won’t just not have a business email any more, I won’t have a personal email any more either. If you email me it’ll return a message saying I no longer check email and that my emails will now be forwarded to someone else.
That even means if my mom emails me, someone else in my department will get it and take care of the situation and notify me if it is important or not. If our book-keeper tries to email me I won’t get it. Although it is tempting to jump in my email and respond to some stuff because technically I still have access I just have to cringe and let it slide knowing that someone will take care of all of the answered emails. Isn’t that a fuzzy feeling? Somewhat scrazy, but in a way somewhat exciting and a relief.
But we believe it will be a good thing.
Finally now that things are growing we can start scaling out the team and divide the tasks between people. Steven and I no longer have to do everything, with a team of 7 people we are starting to of course get dedicated tasks that each individual needs to accomplish. I can now actually focus on what I do best and develop full-time without distraction. I only use to code full time when we had no customers because I didn’t have any distractions.
A key thing to remember. If you are trying to stay focused on task, the way you do it is by limiting all of your distractions that will take your time away from the task at hand.
For me that is talking to everyone one: completely eliminating that will allow me to focus on building our out applications and development team.
Realize that those 2-3 hours of support each day diddn’t just kill the time I spent on support. It’d killing several more hours because when your working on something and get a distraction it will kill your mommentum. If you have to deal with something else and then jump back it’ll take you a alittle bit to get in gear and you ended up wasted double the time. Time to do the distraction and extra time getting back in gear doing what you were focusing on at the time.
At at heart, the objective of killing email is to protect my time from distractions.
If we can limit distractions I can continue to develop full time and teach Man, who is our new team-mate and how develop on top our platform. Man is steven’s old friend and has quit Microsoft to join our company. So all of my time is now able to be focused on developing myself, and teaching others how to develop on our platform in a team.
So that is it for email now, I won’t be using it.
In all likely hood in the future I will probably get another email, but for now and at least for the next couple of months I won’t be using email any more and I will let everyone know how it goes. Realize that the only reason we did this is because of my situation. I’m the main developer currently and it is important that I spend most of my time doing that, if I was in any different role I’d still have email and be talking to people on a daily basis and building the company that way. But I have to focus on building the internals of our company which many people won’t ever see, but it will be there servicing all those tracking requests all day.
It’ll be interesting. I had some anxiety the first few days of it, but now I’m getting used to it, and we are moving and building momentum. I don’t know anyone else who has completely got raid of their email, I’ll be the guinea pig on this one. The only reason this can work too is because other people can handle everything else now, and I’ll be working full-time, but just all internally from now on.
This picture represents the anxiety of letting it all email go. And the anxiety that goes with it, but at the same time the relief of not having to stress about it any more. So yes I’m a lot harder to get ahold of now, thats the whole point of it really. But you still can through twitter, facebook or if you have my number you can always call. And if you really do email, it will get read but I won’t be the one who replies to it.
I’ll let everyone know in a maybe a month how it goes and if it was a good solution or not.