CM 055: Jocelyn Glei On Slaying The Email Dragon

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

blog-post-jocelyn-gleiWhat stands between us and meaningful work? Email!

It is killing our productivity and distracting us from the creative work we crave, yet we spend over a quarter of our work week on it. What is behind our addiction and what can we do about it?

Jocelyn Glei, author of the book, Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done, explains the science behind our addiction and offers strategies for prioritizing meaningful work. Jocelyn is the founding editor of 99U and editor of three productivity books, including the bestseller, Manage Your Day-to-Day.

In this interview, we talk about:  

  • The challenge of living in an age of distraction
  • Why it is easier to be busy than to focus on meaningful work
  • How, on average, we check email 11 times an hour and process 122 emails daily
  • How we spend over a quarter of work time on email
  • How the random rewards of email keep us addicted
  • How completion bias makes us strive for inbox zero
  • How designs like progress bars and percentages speak to our completion bias
  • How our negativity bias influences every email that we read
  • How empathy, emoticons, and punctuation can compensate for negativity bias
  • The fact that email goes awry because of a missing social feedback loop
  • How empathy goes a long way in overcoming email negativity bias
  • Email is great for asking but awful for declining
  • The difference between an email asker and an email guesser
  • What it means to do creative, meaningful work
  • Steps we can take to ensure meaningful work rules the day
  • The role momentum plays in doing meaningful work
  • Why we need to synchronize calendars with to-do lists
  • How scarcity of time and resources impacts capacity, mindset, and attitude
  • Tech setups to help us avoid frequent email checks
  • How the best way to fail at email is to rely on program defaults
  • Why the more we check our email, the less happy we are
  • How segmenting emails senders helps us decide which emails to ready by when
  • The fact that not all email messages are created equal
  • How quickly we respond to emails sets expectations
  • How to ensure your emails stand out
  • How productivity can be about what we choose not to do
  • Why we need to spend more time deciding than doing
  • Why it is about leaving a legacy

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned


B. F. Skinner

Daniel Goleman and emotional intelligence

Mark McGuinness

Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much

Gloria Mark

Manage Your Day to Day

Clayton Christensen

If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening!

Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!



Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest