There is a disturbing trend in business and life in general. It involves people judging our effectiveness (or how busy we are or how good a friend we are) by how quickly we respond to messages or requests on our time (via email, calls, texts, Twitter etc etc).
How quickly we deal with what’s coming in can be important of course but can also have absolutely no connection to how effective we are, our own goals or indeed how happy we feel! It’s time to stop the madness and take a step in another direction.
When you next feel too much of your time is being spent in reactive mode try a mix or all of the following.
The first step is to look at reducing and simplifying the ways you receive information/requests on your time. Cut three email accounts to two (work and pleasure), cut down social media accounts (is your life really any the worse if you don’t have a Facebook and Twitter account?!), try using one telephone for all calls (business and pleasure) but set limitations on when you answer business calls.
Many ways work but essentially the goal is the same, limit the way you receive information and requests on your time (your inbox).
2) Value Your Time
If you don’t value your own time how on earth do you expect anyone else to?
If you’re focussed on a task at hand forget everything else! You can check your inbox later.
3) Control Frequency
Control the frequency of which you check your inbox/es and deal with replies. Set up ‘batch’ times (twice a day for example) when you set aside 30 minutes or so to check and deal with your inboxes. You might need to split this for work and personal inboxes (your boss will not take kindly to you checking Facebook messages on company time) but you get the idea.
4) Form the Habit
Not checking your inbox constantly may be tricky at first if you’re use to dealing with messages and requests more frequently but stick with your new routine for long enough to ingrain the habit and check its effectiveness . Tinker with the approach until you get it right.
5) Check Your Own Output
Maybe the reason for you having a constantly full inbox is to do with your own methods of communication. Could those fourteen emails you sent today (resulting in fifty responses) actually have been one or two more targeted emails that would have resulted in fewer replies and a less busy inbox?
How you deal with information going out often has a big impact on, and direct correlation with, what you receive back. Less frequent and more targeted communication out may well lead to more targeted and useful communication in.
6) Reap the Rewards
Sit back and reap the rewards of your new approach. Tinker with it to make it suit you even more. Fill the time you would have been spending in your inbox on more constructive and enjoyable things.
Kill your inboxes (or wound them a little at least!) and you’ll suddenly find you have more time for more of what you want to do and for what’s important to you.