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Waiting for the computer to whirr up… – PM Polly

by in Emails, Funny

PM Polly

As I sit at my desk and wait for the computer tower to whirr up and for the monitor to flash the familiar ctrl alt del in order that I can log on. The sweat on my palms begins to fight through creating a tiny glint on my pale skin, despite it being a chilly February Monday morning. You see – I was off on Thursday and Friday. Two whole days. Away. From the computer.

I log in, miraculously remembering my password and proceed to click on the dreaded application. Outlook.

Outlook has been set up to trick you. Have you noticed this? When you first click into Outlook, for about ten seconds it appears that you have no new emails at all. The last email before you went on leave still sits at the top and there are no more. This brief interlude of relief is short-lived and I imagine some ‘numskull’ type characters (remember them?!) living inside my computer tower laughing at the sheer look of relief, quickly to replaced by crying as they start throwing the tsunami of virtual letters into my inbox, filling it with bold black letters unmistakably telling me these are no old emails. These are new. And they’ve been sitting there. For TWO days.

What happened before emails? I’m actually old enough to remember this, vaguely. What happened was that you did not come back to a sh*t storm of emails that stresses you out for days, that nobody else has answered, that expect an answer last week, despite your out of office CLEARLY SAYING ARE NOT IN. Emails asking for prescriptions and emails telling you about locums (that actually never exist). Emails from Rob ‘who spoke to you last week’ who actually didn’t, emails from IT asking you if the issue you reported has been sorted – for the FIFTH time because their ‘contact link’ never works but you are not ALLOWED to reply to their emails, and if you do reply they then email back saying that your email has gone to an unmonitored account and that they’ve deleted it! Then if you forward that email to IT via their contact link, they send it back to you refusing to open it because it has more than one email trail. At least someone has a job out of that process.

There’s more.

There are emails from the health board asking you to review an audit of 157 patients by five o’clock. Last night. There’s a complaint, of course. There’s someone who tells you your website has an out of date art class advertised on there. Do these people ever sleep? There’s an email from staff, lots of them. Some about holidays. Some about pregnancies. Some about other staff. Some about their mums. Some about their dads. Some about their dogs. Some about their newly broken finger that they injured whilst playing cricket to raise money for the local bowling green. There are emails from GPs wanting to finish early. Today. When they’re on-call. There are emails from GPs complaining about GPs who want to finish early.

There’s more.

There are emails from research projects wanting to discuss your recruitment figures, for a research project you forgot existed. There are emails from accountants wanting you to reconcile accounts and chasing up VAT returns. There’s of course the drug alerts with passwords that I can never remember. There’ll be a flu update and a circulation of figures comparing which surgery has done better than the other and I will glaze over their colourful graphs and nonsensical data wondering, every time, how that can be someone’s job.

There’s more.

There’ll be emails form the health board telling us how busy secondary care is and demanding to know how busy we are. There’ll be another from them telling us not to send anyone to hospital unless it’s vital. Because, you know, GPs are ALWAYS sending in patients to hospital just for a laugh. There’ll be emails asking us if we have ‘any spare GPs’. That one always makes me giggle and another inviting us to a very important meeting that is vital to attend, it’s happening tomorrow at 9am.

As I go through them and delete them, reply to a handful, task most to read tomorrow, this week, next week – I wonder again, what happened before emails?

I tell you what happened, you didn’t come back from leave terrified and stressed about the giant sea swell of **** about to hit your screen that’ll make you wish you’d never taken a day off. I remember the last job I had that did not involve emails. It involved telephone calls, nicely typed letters, stamps, envelopes and a post-it note if you wanted to leave a message. It involved a cup of tea with colleagues before the day started. It involved face to face talking and zero reading things the ‘wrong way’. There were no keyboard warriors.

I rarely hark back to the ‘good old days’ but emails would certainly be something I would put in my room 101.  What would you put in yours?!

PM Polly

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PM Polly

PM Polly

Experienced Practice Manager doing my best to stay sane.

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10 Responses to “Waiting for the computer to whirr up… – PM Polly”
  1. Avatar
    Fran Raper Says:

    Oh, those happy days before e-mails!
    I also remember (in a previous life as a Branch Manager of one of the ‘Big Four’ banks) having a Secretary to type my letters, and being able to send out said letters knowing that it would be several days minimum before I received a reply rather than just a few minutes.
    I also recall my Area Manager appointing a ‘Gatekeeper’ who vetted all e-mails coming into our area and who would block any that did not have an obvious purpose, before they reached the Branch Managers. If our CCG appointed someone to this role I suspect that the ‘delete’ button on their keyboard would soon wear out.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      Paula Gullett Says:

      This is so true! I am paranoid about emails, trying to keep them down and putting them in folders… just in case! I have a half day on Friday and finish at midday, log back on at 7.30am on a Monday and loads of emails! What’s wrong with people, why send lots of emails on a Friday afternoon?

      Reply

      • Avatar
        PM Polly Says:

        Paula – I feel your pain, I particularly enjoy the ones that arrive 8am on a Monday morning wanting a response by 12 noon!! It’s like the computer vomits emails for fun!

        Reply

    • Avatar
      PM Polly Says:

      Hi Fran – a Gatekeeper – what a fabulous idea! I’m just writing up a job description for that now!!

      Reply

  2. Avatar
    Barbara Young Says:

    Every single sentence of this is spot on, I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after reading it!! Email has become an uncontrollable monster which without doubt is the most stressful part of the job (and of taking any time off) and the saddest thing is the only people who really understand this are fellow PMs! Thank you Polly for articulating it all so well & for making me smile after my 2 days off!

    Reply

  3. Avatar
    Julia Blake Says:

    So true. I cannot face coming in after any annual leave without accessing my emails from home sometime before returning . . . deleting as many as possible so that the overall number is greatly reduced before I log in at work. At least in my head I feel better but it should not be necessary to do this in my own time.
    If I had a magic button I would remove all email from this planet . . . and most days I might even push one to destroy all computers too!!!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      PM Polly Says:

      I agree Julia, the world has become an incessant immediate need for information, RIGHT NOW! If you find a planet without computers please let me know we could have a great party without interruption!

      Reply

  4. Avatar
    ELLA THOMPSON Says:

    so funny… i fear the return to the tirade of emails so much I now end up checking (and then replying) whilst off… which defeats the object entirely of a “break”…. when I first started in practice management we used to get weeks or months to reply or action a response, why is it everything has an almost immediate deadline now…! really does bug me

    Reply

    • Avatar
      PM Polly Says:

      Exactly right Ella and for me the health boards are one of the worst culprits for demanding information yesterday or sending a two sentence email advising us of something huge like – by the way your community hospital is closing while also spending an inordinate amount of time emailing me about some additonoal meetings they’ve made up for us to attend (when we’re not checking emails and running a practice of course!)

      Reply

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