I had an epiphany the other day. It was one of those moments where I was pretty ashamed and was ready to turn in my Lean credentials.
I spent too much time each day deleting the same emails from companies that I don't read.
Delete. Delete. Delete. I cringe to think about adding the time spent deleting emails from the Yahoo account that I've had and used as my primary email for 12 years. I'm not talking about “spam” (or unsolicited) emails — I'm talking about the emails that come from news sources or companies I've done business with and not unchecked the “please contact me” box with.
- golf.com (I don't even golf, how did this start getting into my inbox?)
- realsimple magazine (how did I get on this list??)
- gourmet magazine (I love food and cooking, but I never open these)
I was embarrassed because I was practicing classic “workaround” behaviors, as seen in many workplaces and industries (including healthcare, where it's a major barrier to quality improvement, the willingness of employees to continually work around the same problems every day).
An example of a healthcare workaround:
- There aren't enough blood pressure meters/cuffs in the nursing unit
- Nurses run around searching for meters
- Nurses sometimes hide them or claim them as “theirs”, preventing others from doing their patient care work in a timely way
- Working around the problem (not enough meters) does nothing to prevent step 1 from occurring the next day
Instead of spending all of that time every day, the Lean mindset leads the nurses to solve the root cause of the problem. Why are there only three meter/cuff sets when they are supposed to have seven? Where did they all go? Find them and bring them back to the unit.
But, finding and bringing them back is another sort of workaround if the nurses don't stop and ask “why did they disappear in the first place?” We have to investigate and find out if other units don't have enough equipment (leading them to “borrow” from another unit). Maybe the hospital, as a whole, has a shortage and we have to buy a few more.
The ultimate non-workaround solution would replace every day searching with the implementation of a PROCESS and a SYSTEM that makes sure the needed equipment stays where it's used and needed.
Considering this is what I preach and what I help others practice, I decided “enough.” For a week, instead of just deleting the emails (which *is* faster and expedient, after all), I would invest the time in clicking on the “click here to unsubscribe” links that you find in these emails.
Some sites make it easy — one click and you're unsubscribed. Some less scrupulous sites make it difficult, requiring more clicks or making the process confusing (maybe intentionally so).
One site had the default box checked saying “I do want to receive…”, so if you hit “submit” you are basically saying “Yes, keep sending these to me” which is ludicrous considering I only got to that web page because I had clicked unsubscribe for a reason…
My assumption is that this one-time investment of “unsubscribe me” time will pay off day after day, week after week. My inbox will be less cluttered and I'll waste less time deleting emails I don't read.
Of course, the San Jose Mercury News' “Good Morning Silicon Valley” daily email newsletter (which I read voraciously in 1999 and 2000) STILL keeps coming even though I have unsubscribed a few times. I guess that's a different kind of unscrupulous… a different form of waste.
p.s. If you don't like getting my email newsletters, unsubscribing should just require one click and should be effective… let me know if Constant Contact is dropping the ball on this, but they are supposed to be good and ethical.
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