We love quick-fixes. Unfortunately, for the things that really matter, they rarely work. Think about your expertise. Think about your greatest achievements. Think about a change you’ve made in yourself.
Did any of those things happen from implementing “X Easy Ways to Blah Blah Blah” that showed up in your inbox one day?
Yet, we are constantly seduced by the promise of instant gratification, now more than ever in human history. The tragic irony is the resources we invest going in small circles could be invested in the longer straight and narrow path.That’s when real change usually happens: when we’ve exhausted the shortcuts and go to work. This is a key principle of change management: the hard work happens when the easy ways are seen for what they are: hope-based distractions that give you a momentary good feeling, like white sugar.
I was talking with a client recently about an interesting example of the seduction of quick-fixes. His change management project was getting his email organized, and he was using Inbox by Gmail.
Now, I love Google, and I’ve used Gmail for over a decade, but I will never, ever use this product. Inbox by Gmail is the perfect solution for busy people who want to stay chronically overwhelmed. Any email program that tries to sort your email by importance is screwing you up.
It’s a workaround. Just like the Gmail “feature” of separating your inbox into four tabs introduced 2013. (Great, four inboxes!) Like all workarounds, there are shorter-term benefits. And we love those. But there’s a longer-term cost: chronic overwhelm, the atrophy of your organization muscles, and limiting your potential. These workarounds, which are noble attempts to solve the overflowing inbox problem Google no doubt sees, give people a false sense of organization. It enables people unhealthily, helping them get organized just enough so the problem isn’t in their face. It’s a band-aid on a severed artery and it’s just sad how these kinds of half-measures hurt people by technologically and structurally justifying the quick-fix mentality.
Efficient, organized email processing is emptying your inbox–one at a time. The order they’re in doesn’t matter if you do it right. If you can’t empty it, you’ve got bigger fish to fry. But technology like Inbox for Gmail and many other email readers that sort by importance obviate your need to address those larger issues: the subscriptions you don’t need, the CCs you shouldn’t be getting, the spam that isn’t filtering, the overcommitments you’ve made, etc.
There’s no problem with a workaround–as long as you realize it’s a workaround. Taping your broken glasses together is brilliant, but if you think it’s a sustainable solution you have a problem. As is so often true in our world, problems happen when we take a good thing too far.
Oil has been a great energy source for us, for example, to give us time to develop clean, renewable energy. Oil is a stepping stone, a workaround, and it’s only a problem when we don’t see it that way. In 2015, Sweden was the first country to declare the goal to use 100% renewable energy. Other countries…are…um, waiting for the oil to run out? Hmm.
Change Management Isn’t About Workarounds
Clear and Open doesn’t do workarounds. That’s why I’ll probably never be famous. Mass appeal comes from clever workarounds. Quick-fixes sell like hot cakes. But real change management with real solutions that require real work…but last forever? Not very popular in a quick-fix world that’s slowly destroying itself.
I can live with not being famous, but can you live with a cluttered inbox you dread checking every day? You don’t have to. I promise. It’s easier than you might think. Not as easy as taking a pill, or installing new software, but when you get highly well-organized from your own efforts it’s something to be proud of. That’s a feeling no pill can give you.
Are you ready to leave the frantic, quick-fix world and get clear and open? A good first step is the Clear Workspace, Open Mind course. Sign up for a free trial today. It gives you the time and space to truly address all of your challenges.