It’s day 4 of the Bored and Brilliant Challenge! #BAB is the brainchild of the folks at the New Tech City podcast, who argue that boredom is essential to creativity—our best thinking comes when we allow our minds to be idle. Check out their website and the podcast. You can also read my reflections on the project.
Your instructions: Set an email auto-reply just as you would if you were out for a real vacation, send an “I’ll be back later” text out on group chat, or put up an away message status on social media.
I haven’t taken part in today’s challenge, since I do something very similar on tech Sabbath days and feel like I get it. But I have lots of friends who use their email signatures to communicate their email habits: “I respond to email only twice a day,” “I don’t check email on X days.”
Then there’s the person whose vacation message says “When I return from vacation I will delete all the messages I received while away. Please re-contact me then.” I can’t decide if that’s brilliant or jerky. Or both.
To be sure, not every profession lends itself to unplugging from the constant nag of email. But many more do than we probably want to admit, especially if you’re talking about a matter of hours rather than days. And as the podcast makes clear, breaking away from the tyranny of the urgent is important for our thinking and productivity.
One way to dip your toe into this practice if today’s challenge seems too hard: take a faux-cation from responding to messages, if not reading them. I check email throughout the day–I’ve never been able to break myself of the practice. Truly urgent messages are dealt with as soon as possible. But I respond to everything else the following day. I find batching them makes them go faster, and often the issue has resolved itself in the meantime. If someone really needs an answer quickly, I find they’re quite resourceful in getting ahold of me.
What do you think? How does a fauxcation, or a tech sabbath sound to you? Check out what people are saying about today’s challenge on Twitter.