This is the first in a series of blogs by our CEO, Ade Cheatham, where he muses on how to work smarter, live better and make life count…
Do you think you can stop checking your emails for five minutes? Great. Now we’ve got each other’s attention. It’s difficult in today’s digital age to spend your time doing one thing. To focus. To be productive.
So I recently stopped checking my email constantly throughout the day. It was tough at first, a bit like giving up coffee. But it’s really starting to make a difference.
Imagine if you had neighbours who, in the grips of letter mania, went outside and checked their mailboxes every ten minutes. You’d probably be a tad concerned about their sanity.
But take a moment to consider that, at work, most of us do the digital equivalent every single day: checking our email inboxes again and again and again. It ruins our thought processes, our productivity and our flow.
Here are three other productivity hacks things I’m trying:
I’ve stopped accepting meetings or calls without a clear agenda or end time. I now request details and questions in advance so I can prepare well and make good use of the time together. I’m finding that many meetings are not actually required, that I’m not needed at them, or that a quick phone call can deal with the issue at hand. And when a meeting is needed, most now last no more than 30 minutes, rather than an hour or more.
I no longer begin my day by checking my email messages. I found that if I started going through my inbox before I’d even had a cup of tea or a bite to eat, I was essentially letting other people set my priorities. Similarly, I no longer send emails first thing in the morning. I wait until 10am, after I’ve already completed at least one of my critical to-do items I try to focus on my ‘one big thing’, which I write down and capture the night before.
I don’t answer calls from unrecognised phone numbers. This one might be controversial but I don’t want to be surprised or interrupted. Instead, I’m letting these calls go to voicemail and following them up later if needed.
These are just a few strategies I’m trying to help eliminate ‘stuff’, create more time and enable me to focus on what really matters.
“Ah yes,” I hear you ask, “but what about those emails?” Well, of course I still have to deal with them, but only checking and answering them twice a day is so much more effective than monitoring them 24/7.
It’s true: what you choose not to do is as important as what you choose to do. These days, there are too many people checking emails, going to meetings, doing things they shouldn’t be doing.So where’s your focus? Is it in the right place? Or is it being blurred by the digital noise that seems to get louder each day?