Email is the biggest source of
distraction in the workplace. We interrupt ourselves every five minutes to
check our inboxes, hoping for something more interesting, more fun or more
urgent than whatever we’re working on in that moment.Continuity in our thought process and, not
surprisingly, our productivity plummets as a result.
created what I call our staccato work environment—where everything has to be
“now, now, now!”We assume people expect
immediate responses, because an immediate response seems possible.But just because messages arrive
instantaneously in your inbox, doesn’t mean that you have to respond
immediately.I have clients who
consciously choose to WAIT before replying, even if they see an email right
away, to avoid training people to think they are always available.
everything is urgent, and not everything is email---some projects, requests,
decisions and correspondences take time and thought.Years ago, it may have been impressive to
instantly get back someone the moment they sent a request.But today—if someone answers your email
within minutes of your sending it—what is your reaction?Don’t you wonder why that person is sitting
there with nothing more important to do?
Three ways to kick the email habit:
·Completely avoid email for the first hour of
the day. Email is addictive. It interrupts continuity in our thought process and
steals productivity. If you can fight off email the first hour of the day, you
can control yourself all day long. Instead, use that hour to focus on your most
critical, concentrated task.
·Keep your email alarm off. Check email at designated times of each day –
e.g. 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 5pm. If an issue is that
critical or urgent, someone will find you!
·Stop “just checking”.Process
emails fully during your email sessions. Read, respond and immediately delete
or file emails that can be answered in two minutes or less. For emails that
require more thought or research before responding, schedule a specific time
later in your schedule to deal with it.
your first hour to concentrated work, the day starts proactively, instead of
reactively. It’s a bold statement to the world (and yourself) that you can take
control, pull away from the frenetic pace and create the time for quiet work
when you need it.There’s no safer hour
than the first to be “off email”-because you have the rest of the day to catch
up to anything that’s sitting in there.And truly—what’s so urgent that cannot wait 59 minutes for you to tend to
your muscles of resistance one day at a time.The first day or two will be the hardest, but each successive day will
become easier as you realize how little you are actually missing, and how much
your productivity improves—when you proactively carve out time to think.