To some it’s a bad word – it’s a constant reminder of what we’re NOT doing right. We compare our systems (or lack thereof) to others. And in frustration… we stop trying.
I consider myself somewhat of a productivity guru and I fall into this same rut. Especially on the weekends – I’ve had as much as I can take of the electronic world and I put my head in the sand and stop dealing. I’ll glance at the notification number and see the frightening number and put my head back in the sand.
All of us are feeling this phenomenon – our electronic devices are taking over our lives. My fellow gen-xers remember a time when you left work on Friday at 5p and returned Monday morning at 8a. There was a period of rest. A period where we were only present in the phyiscal world. You called people. You shared meals. You wrote letters and snail mailed them. Life was slower and more controlled.
But guess what buttercup – that’s not the world we live in anymore. While everyone’s electronic life is varied – let’s assume that you receive upwards of 50 emails a day – that’s, on average, 1,521 a month and 18,250 a year. That’s a lot of emails and not even considering our text messages and social media notifications. Now, let’s extrapolate that to the world…estimates of course…
Holy Toledo Batman.
We’ve got to put the nostalgia away and have a plan to deal with this electronic chaos.
Let’s go check our snail mailbox. Find the key, walk to the box, and pause – if you’re like me it could be like one of those jack in the box wind up toys – pop goes the weasel – as all the mail flies out when you open the door. Grab your mail and head home.
Wait – do you grab your mail or do you stand there and go through it half-heartedly and shove it all back in and walk away.
And go back again in a few minutes. And again. And again.
The average person checks their email over 50 TIMES A DAY.
You’d never do that with your snail mail (or maybe you do and I can come help you declutter) so why do we do it with electronic mail?
Back to the overwhelming amount of email we receive – it really does get to be too much. Then there’s the tendency to use our email boxes as to-do boxes. I am guilty of this more than I care to admit. But how many of you (me included) find an email AFTER something should have been done with it. Oops.
The D Quadfecta
If you’ve never heard of or read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I highly recommend it to you. His four D paradigm can be used on your to-do list, your paper life, and most importantly your email life.
**** First off – let’s all agree that checking email 50 TIMES a DAY is a little much. I’d like to propose, depending on your job, checking email 2 or 3 times a day. Yikes. Yes, it’s an adjustment but it can be done. I am currently practicing an 11a and 4p check-in period. It leaves my morning mind free to work on things that really matter to me and my evenings open to enjoying the physical world. Practicing is the key – progress not perfection. ****
If it takes less than two minutes, do it now. You could schedule it for later, but it might take you a minute just to do that. Save yourself the hassle and do it now.
**** Just do it y’all – stop procrastinating ****
If it takes more than two minutes, and you’re the right person for the job, defer it. Put it on your to-do list, or write it on the calendar to be completed at a more convenient time.
**** About using that email box as a to-do box. That’s a whole other blog entry and thought process. For me, I recommend a to-do program like Omni Focus that allows you to forward an email to your to-do box and then delete from the email inbox. ****
Sometimes it’s just not your responsibility. Or better yet, someone else would enjoy doing the task much more than you would! If it needs to get done, but it’s not your job, delegate it to someone else.
**** But don’t be that guy – that guy that pawns tasks ****
Some stuff just doesn’t matter. Delete the email and give your brain the space to focus on the important stuff.
**** BUT, before you just delete… the simplest first step is to stop the email from coming to you in the first place. This does require a little bit of effort but it is so worth it. Each email you receive, ask yourself, “Is this something I REALLY care about” and if the answer is no; then unsubscribe yourself. Depending on your email provider, there may be apps to help you with this – Unroll.me for one. Be mindful. Be brave. Stop the flow. ****
As with any new habit – this can all be a little overwhelming and the tendency will be that head in the sand. Just know…you have choices…you have what it takes and I’m here if you want some help.
The legal stuff – I’ll never write nor promote a product I don’t believe in…with that said, this post could contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you – these small commissions simply help me finance this blog. Thanks for being here.