Don’t respond to email…yet

Most people attempt to maximize productivity by taking a reactive approach and diving into the small tasks at hand. We get involved with the tasks of the day much too soon. And before we know it, the day is over. We then wonder why we cannot get the really large projects started, or feel as if there are not enough hours in the day to even complete the little things.

News Flash- there will always be enough little things to grab your attention, but those will not ultimately help you achieve your personal goals.

Bestselling authors Tim Ferris (The Four Hour Workweek) and David Allen (Getting Things Done) both point to a reactive approach to task management as a source of stress and reduced productivity. Deliberate work, however, frees you to focus your creativity and energy on what really matters.

Action: Therefore, don’t start your day by listening to voicemails or opening emails. Instead close your door, take out a piece of paper, look around the room or out the window and think about the next “big” thing you need to do.

  • Is it a specific strategic direction to take?
  • A project that you have thought about before?
  • Data gathering that could help guide analysis or decision?
  • It could even be just the few items to complete today.

10-15 minutes is all you need

Don’t limit your thoughts or have expectations on developing something from your notes. Once you stop limiting or trying to tie a thought to a project, the more open or creative you will become.

Giving yourself permission each day will hopefully allow you to cleanse the diminutive. After repeating each day for 10-15 mins this will replicate a period for you to expand and develop you and your thoughts. This will be a time to think about new ideas and challenge assumptions. Write down your thoughts. Who cares what it looks like or says? These are your thoughts. After a few of these sessions, you can start to direct and prioritize. Then they will become actions. If getting started with something is always the problem, here you go, you’ve begun. Now focus and the planning will start.


5 thoughts on “Don’t respond to email…yet

  1. Did you actually do this today !!!! I did, filled out two pieces of paper with new ideas. Now that they are written down, I can start formulating these into action plans.

  2. I find that I can time manage myself delinquent, no matter what may be on the list more is added than checked off at the end of each day. With a constant feed of information (email, text, cell, office, in person meetings & last minute deadlines) i feel like I am constantly reacting & very rarely get to think big picture. How do you protect time while also triageing priorities, particularly emails, any tricks?

    • Amber I can definitely relate! A trick I’ve recently employed is to actually book the time on my outlook calendar. This way meetings won’t get scheduled over my time to think big. And, I get a pop-up reminder too!

  3. Oh my word, this entry couldn’t be more true!!!! Those little things (and often uninteresting, sometimes mind-numbing things) have taken up too many of my days at work. Ugh! I am going to try the exercise above.

    Thank you for the idea!

    • As hard is it is sometimes to create our own time, or time for thinking and really growing ourselves, it needs to become a habit. Thats why 10-15 min a day works so well.

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