A World Without Email | The Protocol Principle

Email is terrible. But Cal Newport has answers for the problem of email: the attention capital principle and the process principle. In the next chapter, Newport lays out the next principle: the protocol principle. The protocol principle seeks to “optimize when and how coordination occurs in the workplace” (187). In other words, what are the “rules” for scheduling meetings and work tasks. Throughout the chapter, Newport lays out a few different protocols.

Meeting Scheduling Protocol

Newport is a strong advocate for never scheduling meetings over email. If possible, he encourages organizations to have assistants set up the meetings. If the assistant option isn’t available, he suggests using such tools as Calendly or Acuity. Both of these service let you set your calendar and have people pick from the availability. If a meeting involves multiple people, use a service like Doodle, which gives people various options for what works for them.

Office Hours Protocol

Newport advocates for the use of office hours, predetermined hours you’re on hand to have conversations (197). An office hours protocol should held eliminate the numbers of emails flying around back and forth.

Client Protocol

The client protocol seeks to determine what the best way to communicate with a client is. The rules of communications help give the client timing and clarity on status updates without the workers being constantly bombarded with emails and questions from the client.

Email Protocols: Short Messages and Nonpersonal Addresses

Newport suggests writing messages in emails (five sentences or less) and the use of nonpersonal email addresses like office@comany.

Status Meeting Protocol

Status meetings need to be kept on point and concise. The point is to check on the status of a project.

Application Questions

  • What are our current protocols for various things? (Brain dump on these)
  • What new protocols can we put in place?
  • What tools could we use for scheduling meetings?

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