Intention and Intentional Drift


My #oneword for 2016 is intention. I have, as I wrote earlier this year, felt a bit drifty, particularly in the area of my own professional growth and renewal. I want to read, think and write more in the coming year.

Oliver Quinlan’s recent post on habit forming spoke powerfully about the issues around intention and drift. He is using a new job in a new city to make new habits to help stem the drift that can happen as we move through our lives.

But, when we chatted briefly on Twitter about his article, he also cautioned against too much intention:

I suggested this be called “intentional drift” as a way of being aware that you were doing it and, in this case, it’s OK. If not, you could end up like the siblings in The Accidental Tourist, endlessly debating the best way to do things for fear of not getting it exactly right. So while I know my areas of intention, what about the drift? While I’m not sure it’s the right word to apply here: I am going to let email drift a bit. Lots of productivity experts seem to agree that it can be a distraction; I always have my email in an open tab, just waiting for the number to change so I can pop back and see what’s happening. It is rarely an emergency but dealing with it makes me feel productive. Plus, I’ve noticed that my somewhat obsessive email nature leads me to feel annoyed with those who have found a better relationship with their email and sometimes go a whole day without answering. I find myself wondering if they received it or are, perhaps, avoiding me.  

So, I’ll take the advice of Raymond Tomlinson, the man who sent the first email, and make email a less obtrusive part of my life. It can drift but intentionally.

The problem is how to reset the expectations I have established? I have thought about trying Doug Belshaw’s method of putting up an out of office message that explains my new routines around email and suggests other ways of getting in touch with me when the issue is urgent.   

Maybe I could use some of these excuses from The New Yorker.

  But, Dux Raymond Sy, who posted a link to the article about Tomlinson had what might be the best suggestion:

They’ll get the message and probably not even think twice about it.


Leave a Reply