White-collar cubicle dwellers complain about email for good reason. They spend 28 percent of their workweek slogging through the stuff, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. They check their messages 74 times a day, on average, according to Gloria Mark, an authority on workplace behavior and a professor at the University of California, Irvine.
And lots of that checking happens at home. Jennifer Deal, a senior research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership, surveyed smartphone-using white-collar workers and found that most were umbilically tied to email a stunning 13.5 hours a day, well into the evening. Workers don’t even take a break during dinner — where, other research shows, fully 38 percent check work email “routinely,” peeking at the phone under the table. Half check it in bed in the morning. What agonizes workers is the expectation that they’ll reply instantly to a colleague or boss, no matter how ungodly the hour. Hence the endless, neurotic checking, and the dread of getting in trouble for ignoring something.
Surely lawyers with an active practice far exceed these numbers.
I'm not proud of this, but given exchanges with co-workers, colleagues, opposing counsel, email orders and motions etc., editing of documents and you name it, I check my email probably every three to four minutes from waking to bedtime.
That doesn't include social media, texting, and other smartphone functions (including the occasional phone call).
Perhaps that's one reason you don't hear lawyer-parents calling for their kids to get off the phone anymore -- they are on it more than their children!
What is the solution?
I don't think the one offered by the author of that NYT piece works -- you simply can't, in a modern practice, "shut down" emails after, say 6 p.m. You'd be totally out of the loop on many useless and meaningless conversations and notifications (but it's the possibility that something important happened that keeps you coming back).
Or can you?
What are the creative solutions?
"Breaks" during the day; mindfulness time outs, being disciplined enough to put the phone down for an hour or two?
What are your thoughts? (No one is really working today anyways.)