Let’s imagine you have a detailed proposal to get finished and sent by the end of today. You have made your coffee, sat at your desk and are determined to focus on it for the next hour. You get writing and then an email pings in and the pesky dialogue box appears in the bottom right of your screen. You think ‘oh that looks interesting, I’ll just quickly check it” so you click on the dialogue box and then go down a rabbit hole of distraction, reading the email and no doubt responding, because ‘you might as well quickly respond now’. Sound familiar?
With distractions like this, how long do you think it will take you to complete the proposal? Whatever the answer, it’s a lot longer than it would if you had solely focused on writing it, with no distractions! Think about it; every time you are side tracked by checking emails, your head is taken away from the report and then when you try and get back to it, you have think about where you were, reread what you have written so far etc. etc. I think it will take you 1.5 times longer to write it with distractions than it would if you just focused on it.
So, let me give you a simple answer (and you may need therapy to make this work – in which case, get in touch!):
- Turn off your Outlook (or whatever email platform you use) dialogue box (Outlook – Preferences – Notifications & Sounds)
- Have 4 set points during your day when you will check emails (first thing in the morning, just before lunch, mid PM and at the end of the day)
Simple right? I know you are thinking – yes but my client will be angry with me if it takes me 2 hours to respond. Really? Let’s just break that down:
- You need to ‘train’ your stakeholders (colleagues, clients, partners etc.) to have a reasonable expectation of response times – if you always reply immediately then they will always expect an immediate reply. If you set your service levels as reasonable (i.e. respond within half a day) then they will understand that
- You need to work on the basis that if someone really needs to get hold of you then they will pick up the phone rather than email you (and explain this to those that email you when they have an emergency!)
This is a conversation I am having frequently with clients in my 1-2-1 coaching so thought I would share this thinking with you in this blog post.
Do you have any other time saving or focus ideas? I would love to hear from you.