Small Business Help

Gmail outtage makes for productivity uptime

Joseph Patterson | August 13, 2008

It went a little something like this:

DT: oye, can you get into ur gmail?

Brent: dunno lemme check

Brent: errr…that’s weird.  Did you clear the cache and restart FF?

DT: already done.  Wtf?

Brent: hmmmm..weird

DT: meh…probably just a glitch, I’ll grab lunch and check it again

That was just the beginning of  a ‘what the heck is going on around here’ day.  While Google fully admitted the problem on their end, this left a whole lot of us sitting dead in the water.  Or were we?

Granted, email is an indispensible tool in today’s business world, and while we use it day in/ day out as the mainstay communication tool, it shouldn’t be the be all, end all of our working day.

This gmail outage made my mind jump to the GTD philosophy.  While Mr. Allen’s approach may not be right for everyone, as with any philosophy, bits and pieces can be applied to just about any situation.  Gmail and Google had suddenly given me a WWDAD (what would David Allen do) situation.  The GTD process acknowledges that you have little control over the interruptions (read: gmail), you DO have the power to do something about it right now.

A great tenant of the philosophy is to think in contexts.  If all your work is centered around email, you’re doing it wrong.  Email down?  Great time to catch up on those phone leads you were going to do this afternoon.  How about that research project that’s still a few weeks off?  Downed email could be a good time to get a jump on researching figures.  What about talking to the head of marketing about that new idea you’ve been brewing up late at night?  You know at least that his/her email isn’t working either.

In other words, learn to see the benefits of being cut off.  Cortes burned his ships upon reaching the new world in order to motivate his crewmen.  If you’re email is burned, move on to another fire.  Google themselves commented on the amount of twitters that were heard across the net regarding the lack of service.  I can only wonder…if these twitterers were backing away from the refresh button, and focusing on other tasks, would the downage have even been noticed?

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