Inbox zero lasted for about 1 minute today…
Taking ownership of my time, and managing it (and the expectations of others) has been a tough lesson to learn. Digital marketing lends itself to be a field at which there is pressure to always be available. I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing.
As I continue to work on building TrustWorkz and En Pointe Designs, I continue to come across more and more distractions. It’s a blessing and a curse. Both businesses are growing, and that’s fantastic. It also means that more people are buzzing my phone and pinging (corporate lingo for instant messaging) me online. Over the course of the week, my inbox starts to pile up with emails to respond to and tasks to check off.
Recently, I discovered that if I block out the buzzing, beeps, and dings from my phone and Google chat, then I can really focus on accomplishing much in a little amount of time. With a fresh pot of coffee by my side and zero distractions, I’ve been able to breeze through emails.
Removing the Pressure
I have recently set my inbox to show me all of my unread emails first. It is set to only show me 10 at a time so I don’t have a panic attack before 10 AM. The short list allows me to look at my email as a manageable task that can easily be taken care of in a matter of minutes if I just focus. How do I focus? Out of necessity, I remove myself from being able to be reached. Earlier in the post, I touched on how I don’t think it’s necessarily great that we can always, and more importantly, are expected to be able to be reached by any and all means. Just because my phone is capable of Google Chat, email, text messages, Tweets, and phone calls does not mean that I am always available. It took me awhile to figure that out for myself, and I’m still learning that I don’t have to pick up the phone.
If what you’re working on is actually worth doing, then it deserves your undivided attention.
Working on What Matters
In order to get to the point where I could let the phone ring to voicemail, I had to start transforming the way that I thought about work and my time. For starters, there’s no reason in the world to answer my phone at 9 PM at night when I’m hanging out with my wife. We both work long hours, so after dinner is our time to hangout. If I believe that spending time with her is worth it (and it is), then she deserves my undivided attention.
The same idea can be applied to my daily tasks to some extent (sorry everyone, but Andrea comes before you.) Every day, my inbox is filled with client requests, or questions from team members. It’s impractical to attack them all at once. After copious amounts of caffeine, I go over everything and figure out what is truly on fire, and I work my way through my list without distractions. I finally figured out that I can’t really multitask, and doing so is a disservice to my team members, our clients, or both. When I start a new task, I have to believe that what I’m working on is actually worth doing, and it deserves my undivided attention. If I don’t believe that, then I do a half ass job on everything and let a lot of people down. When what is important doesn’t get your full attention, things slip through the cracks and you end up working harder at the end of the day.
Of course, it seems impractical to eliminate any and all means of connecting with your coworkers and clients. I don’t go through my entire day ignoring phone calls and emails. Chances are that I wouldn’t get very far making people feel like they couldn’t get an answer from me ever. What I have learned is that I have to schedule out periods of time to 100% focus, and then open up time during the day for reasonable distractions. So far, it seems to be working out. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been praying for God to beer me strength recently, and that’s always a good thing.