About twenty weeks ago, I was catching up on some missed episodes of Back To Work while driving. When I got to the episode titled I Handed Him My Luke, things began to change in my life. Merlin Mann detailed his communication strategy called E6W, short for "Every Six Weeks." E6W could not be more simple in both its function and its execution. You choose a day of the week, six people who enrich your life and pull out your calendar. The idea is that if you find yourself getting so busy with this thing called 'life' that you go months or years without talking to people that you really enjoy, make it easy for both of you and schedule it. I'm 18 weeks into my own E6W program, and it couldn't be going better.
I started by making a list of people I don't talk to very often and with which I never have a bad conversation. Then I picked four names from that list. I didn't want to start off by maxing out my six slots. In theory, you could talk to several people every week, but still have a recurrence with each person every sixth week. I don't have a lot of extra time in my current daily routine, so I decided that I would limit my list to a maximum of six people. In addition, I decided to start off with less than that to make sure that if I failed miserably, less people I respect would know I couldn't find an hour for them every six weeks. Once I had my names, I pulled up Sparrow and wrote the following email (E6W methodology removed to avoid duplication of the above summary):
I really hope no one thinks this is spam, but here goes...
Each of you hold a special place in my life. Some of you I've known better than myself, others of you I consider family in the most sincere sense of the word. A couple of you I wouldn't even say I know very well at all, considering, but you all have something in common. You're people that I'd like to have more regular contact with going forward.
There are a few of you that each and every seldom time we speak, we both say "we should do this more often," and we both mean it. Inevitably, our lives continue to march down their own ever more complicated paths and we go weeks, months, even years w/o having a phone call again (or seeing each other in person). I know I hate it when I realize that much time has passed, so I'm hoping this plan helps with the one thing I've become horrible about, taking time out to pick up the damn phone.
So... If there are any of you that don't think I'm a total nerd for approaching you with this, let me know. Obviously I'd work with each person on my list to try and find the best day/time that works for both of us, but initially I'm just going to throw Thursday late afternoon/early evening out there as a starting point. Thursday is generally a day where I don't have meetings in the afternoon and maybe it will work for some of you as well. If not, let me know what would work for you. If you think this is dumb, I'm totally okay with that, and it doesn't mean I no longer want to know you. It just means that you didn't feel the same level of need I did for keeping in more frequent contact and that's cool too.
Let me know by text or by email if you decide you're down... I deactivated my Facebook account today, since I didn't feel like that network was helping me strengthen any actual bonds that I have with people. That same feeling is actually a large part of why I'm proposing this system.
Thanks for taking the time to read this,
I hit 'Send' and hoped for the best. Within a day or two, I had three recurring calls scheduled.
I've had three calls with each of the three people who agreed to be a part of my E6W plan. From these nine calls, I have achieved more meaningful insight and interaction than I ever did talking to these same people via any social network. Topics of conversation have included:
- My kids
- My marriage
- iOS apps
- UI/UX design paradigms
- My work
- Their work
- Their families
- Their goals
- My goals
- Their tech decisions
- My tech advice
- Android tablets
- Home refinance
... and the list goes on.
I am sure that as more calls occur, and more people get added to the three remaining slots, the conversations will drive both T&C post content as well as a mindfulness about the importance of meaningful communication in our lives. The latter has already been cemented, but it grows with each interaction. I hope this post inspires readers to start their own iterations of the E6W plan (feel free to plagiarize my invitation email in part or whole). I hope that if any of my three current slot-holders read this post, they realize how much the last 18 weeks have meant to me.