Productivity

Stop Checking Your Email

Stop the email madness

Image Source Flickr.com / Uwe Hermann

There is a radical idea going around – the idea that you shouldn’t check your email, at least not first thing in the morning.

The theory is that email places unnecessary demands on your schedule, causing you to readjust your day to accommodate the requests in your inbox. Once you’ve tended to all your requests, there is often not enough time to accomplish your most important work.

Switching your habits and blocking off time to work first, before you check your email for the day, allows you to prioritize your work and focus on what is truly important, instead of chasing your inbox.

Is this realistic and even feasible?

You’ll probably say that there is no way to go without checking your email at the start of your day. You’re worried that there is something important in there, critical to the daily operation of business.

If it was truly urgent, it wouldn’t be sent via email.

The Problem with Email

Email has become a problem. It’s akin to a toddler that you are always chasing after – constantly messy, and unpredictable.

Email was supposed to be a communication tool to make life easier, not harder. Yet, it no longer works for you.

It has now become one of the main ways everyone communicates in business. Instead of picking up the phone and having a simple conversation with a client, or talking to employees in the same building, an email is sent and the maddening cycle continues.

They say for every one email you send out, you get six in return. SIX! Think about that next time you go to send an email.

The real problem with email is that it is impersonal. It cuts out a foundational business component – the relationship. Every time you send an email to someone, whether it is a client or employee, you are sending the same signal – they are not important enough for you to stop what you are doing and have a real conversation.

How do you stop the madness? Refuse to chase after it anymore.

Schedule It

Schedule time for your email, considering both what time you will check your email, and for how long. It is one thing to decide when you are going to check your email, but if you spend an hour or more every time you check it you haven’t gained any of the benefits of scheduling your email time.

Instead, decide how long you are going to check your email for, and when. Once in your inbox, prioritize your time by answering the most pressing emails first. Then, move on to the next important, and so on.

If you can’t get to all of your emails don’t panic, try to get to them next time. If you never get to certain emails, maybe they weren’t that important to begin with.

Reinstate Conversations

Instead of sending an email, ask yourself if this is an opportunity to connect, and have a conversation with the person.

This means having real conversations with our clients and employees. Additionally, questions and concerns can be addressed immediately, solving problems before they begin, and saving you time in the long run.

Ultimately, the only way truly slay the email monster is to get ahead of it, and stop sending emails in the first place.

What do you think about this radical idea of not checking your email? Have you ever tried it before? What was the result? Leave us a comment and tell us about it. We would love to hear your story.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping your business be more productive.  Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Creativity in the Workplace: How a Skunk Works Program Could Work for You

What kind of workplace focuses on play instead of work? One concerned with innovation, creativity, and expansion.

Like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which founded skunk works, a hands on technology laboratory where IT, engineering, and others play openly and freely with hot new consumer technologies.

The concept is simple; anything that looks like it could be innovative in the public sector is purchased for use in the skunk works lab for employees to play with. This has allowed NASA to get ahead of the technology curve, and create innovative and new technology combinations.

But what their finding is surprising. Companies who focus on play and innovation rather than just production, have a higher rate of employee retention, and have a better company culture, than their boring counterparts.

Other companies following suite find the same thing, that when employees are given time to play and explore, innovation occurs, which has fantastic results for the company.

Should you let your employees play more? Yes and here’s why.

Creative Employees

When you let your employees play, you are allowing them to engage and actively develop their creative problem solving capabilities. This results in better solutions and crisis management when real world problems occur.

Creative employees also deliver creative solutions to common concerns and problems, making for a better product or service, and in turn helping your customers in the long run.

Knowledgeable Employees

Particularly in tech related fields, when employees play with new technology, they really learn the product and how it works, which allows them to provide better solutions. Instead of just guessing based on information they think they know, they truly learn how the product works, learning that returns with them to their jobs,

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empowering them to help others better.

Staff Retention

Companies that employ skunk works type programs find that their employee turnover is low, because of the job satisfaction that results because of a sense of accomplishment. Often, this is enough to keep even the best and brightest of stars, even when offers of higher pay or a better title, because they are in a fun, rewarding, enriching environment.

If you’ve ever wanted your company to be more innovative, and ahead of the curve, consider launching a skunk works type program at your company. Your employees and customers will thank you for it.

Have you ever rolled out a skunk works style program? What were your findings?

To read more about skunk works, and the benefits of employees playing, click here.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping your business succeed through innovation. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Multitasking is a Myth

Multitasking

Image Source: Flickr.com / Sorosh

If you think you can multitask, think again. Studies are quickly proving that our beliefs about multitasking are all wrong.

What we call multitasking is usually a case of

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well managed serial tasking; that is, switching from one task to another in rapid succession.

You may go back and forth between the same tasks several times over the duration, but you are always focusing on one task at a time, not multiple.

Serial tasking is what most of us do when we think we’re multitasking. We do it because we think we’re being effective, but the problem is, we’re not.

The American Psychological Association has found that because of the way our brains have to shift to recover in serial tasking situations, it can take up to 40% longer than when we single task, particularly for complicated tasks.

It is actually less efficient to try to do multiple things at once. What’s more, they are finding that people who multitask

can remember less than their single tasking counterparts.

Let’s think about it another way. If we could multitask, magic would not work. That’s because a magician relies on sleight of hand and distraction to keep you focused on

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If you could truly multitask, you could focus on both the distraction and the trick, and not miss a beat. Instead you are amazed when the magician does something you didn’t see coming; amazed, because your single-tasking brain can’t connect the dots. (But don’t feel bad, none of ours can.)

If we really can’t multitask, then why do we believe that we can? Because we’re great at fooling ourselves, that’s why.

So today I challenge you to change your belief, and shatter the multitasking myth. Instead, try to be present and in the moment with everything you do. You’ll find that not only are you more productive, but less stressed. And stress is definitely something we could all use a little less of.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping you rethink your assumptions. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.