Friday, September 18, 2009

Avoid Being Overwhelmed by Using IP Strategies

I talked a bit in This Post about being overwhelmed and developing strategies to help filter information.

We're all overwhelmed. And somehow technology makes it worse. There's a sense of urgency in electronic communications that makes us believe that we need to allow ourselves to be Interrupt-Driven and handle things right away.

That's why pop-ups and spam work. You are interrupted. You click on something. Either "close" or go so what's up. But you do something.

Outlook is the worst with it's little message popup.

Outlook pops up a message.
- A newsletter you subscribed to, never read, and have never got around to un-subscribing from
- Update for the last week on
- Spam-o-Vendor wants you to be a reseller
- Invitation to a meeting you won't attend
- Another newsletter you subscribed to, never read, but really intend to some day
- Echo from Yahoo Group about blah blah blah
- Echo from Yahoo Group about blah blah blah
- Echo from Yahoo Group about blah blah blah
- Notification of voicemail from BUYNOW800
- Weekly credit stats from Vendor
- Webinar announcement for a product you haven't sold in 15 months
- Note from relative who loves the Internet because she doesn't have to find a fax machine to send you the same set of jokes she's been circulating since 1975
- Google Alert on your company name
- Webinar invitation for a vendor
- Notice of service request created by a client

You get the point.

Why should you stop what you're doing to even give .5 seconds time to these? Okay: One new service request. You could check your email every fifteen minutes and give that appropriate attention. You don't need to be totally interrupt-drive in order to make sure you filter these things in "real time."

My personal worst organization habit is to put things on stacks instead of upright files. Stacks of paper are very analogous to an out of control inbox. You tend to work your way down from the top. And if you're lucky enough to have two stacks, you can move that top piece of paper from one stack to another! That gets you to the second item, but doesn't get you past the second item.

Eventually when the stack is tall enough to fall over and kill someone, you tackle the stack. What do you do?

In many cases, you start throwing stuff out.

What was important when it went on the stack three months ago is old garbage today. Some stuff got too old (the date passed). Some stuff you decided not to do. Some opportunities have tarnished.

What Makes the Internet Successful

Before the IP protocol ruled the world, computers didn't really throw away data. In fact, the most common connections involved a handshake along with routines to verify that data was sent correctly. A lot of overhead was spent making sure that nothing was lost.

IP takes a different approach. Packets die or get thrown away a lot. All packets have a limited time to live. If they get too old they are discarded by whatever device is handling them. No emotions. No second thoughts. No worrying about whether we REALLY should have kept that packet.

This is okay because there are two primary techniques to deal with the loss of packets.

First, a certain amount of loss is acceptable to some programs. For example, a video stream can drop a packet or two and keep on going. If you watch the same video again and again, you experience loss of different packets each time, but it's close enough that you don't notice the difference. Audio is higher priority than video because your brain tolerates skips in video much better than skips in audio.

Second, some programs keep track of all the packets and assemble in order on the receiving end. If a packet doesn't show up, a request is made for a resend. So, for example, a file download has to be complete and cannot have missing packets.

What clients see as a "slow" Internet is often attributed to a dirty line somewhere that drops packets and requires a large percentage of the bandwidth to be dedicated to resends.

The same is true of email protocols. In the case of email, there are verifications of receipt. But as we all know, you can get delays that eventually result in a message telling the sender that the email was never delivered. It might take four days to throw away an undeliverable email, but it does happen.

Consider This Strategy in Your Personal Life

What things can you throw away with little or no effect on your success? Why aren't you doing that?

Yin/Yang: Focus is one side of the coin. The other side is a clutter of thoughts and information and tasks.

I go on and on about not being interrupt-driven for a reason. Again, your inbox is a perfect example. Going through your email in order based on when something arrives is an almost-necessary evil. Wouldn't it be great if you could throw away a bunch of that stuff before it gets there?

- Unsubscribe to newsletters you don't read (except those from me)

- Get off mailing lists

- Filter spammy friends to a folder you can check after hours when you're watching TV

- Close instant messenger

- Close your Outlook! You don't need it open all day. Really. Honestly. Everything will be there on the hour or half hour when you check it.

You should also throw away tasks, chores, and activities that are not going to contribute to your success going forward. For example, I used to write code. Commercially viable code. But I pretty much cut that out the year before I started my consulting business. When I opened the doors at KPEnterprises (Sacramento's premier Microsoft Certified partner), I only hired coders. I made no attempt to keep up with C# and .net and all the stuff that came after that.

This was harder than it sounds. We sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of code between 1995 and 2000. And I was tempted at first. But over time I realized that I could manage programmers and not have to be up all night trying to figure out problems. Sweet.

- - - - -

So give it a try: Use a successful IP strategy to make your life and business more successful. Throw things away in real time when they're dropped on your plate.

Turn away marginal work.

Don't sweat marginal clients.

Don't say yes because something was handed to you.

Don't take home every puppy you're offered.


Now Available:
Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations
Seminar on MP3 Download

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feedback Welcome

Please note, however, that spam will be deleted, as will abusive posts.

Disagreements welcome!