Supercharge your Productivity
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5 ways to take control of your inbox and supercharge your productivity ....
By Mayfield UK, Friday 15th February 2019
I won’t keep you long. I know you’re busy.
Even if you’re not one of the 28% of Britons working more than 40 hours a week (1), you’re probably going to receive around 122 emails today (2).
And it probably won’t end when you get home. Thanks to the smartphone we’re no longer safe from email as we unwind at the end of a busy day with some Netflix and a glass of red wine.
Look, being busy is usually a sign that you’re doing something right (it’s only when no one is sending work your way that you should be worried). But overwork is not only bad for your health, it’s bad for business. Quality suffers, and you risk burnout.
Want to take control of your inbox and boost productivity? Here a couple of strategies you might want to try:
1. Don’t respond to emails straight away
Q: You’ve just stumbled into quicksand. You can no longer see your loafers and there’s a chance you may miss your lunch reservation. How do you stop yourself from sinking any further?
1: Panic and thrash about wildly
2: Remain calm, moving deliberately and slowly
The same principle applies in the office.
Trying to answer every email as it arrives is the business equivalent of trying to escape quicksand by flapping your limbs about madly. Dropping tools every time something new pops into your inbox will only distract you from what really matters.
Instead, take a few minutes every half-hour to work through your emails methodically. This will give you the chance to evaluate what needs your attention, and what can wait.
Ask yourself: What is your most important task? What can you realistically hope to get done today? And what can’t you put off any longer?
2. Before you respond, think carefully about what you can deliver
You’re a successful professional. You have responsibilities. Being awesome takes time, dammit. Don’t be afraid to let others know how busy you are.
It pays to be realistic – with yourself, and with others. Promising the impossible is only going to cost you when you fail to deliver.
And if need be, delegate. Don’t be afraid to pass work to others (if you’re confident they can get the job done).
3. Set aside time for work – and only work
Close your inbox and shut your phone in a drawer. If colleagues are bothering you, find a quiet space. If there are no quiet spaces, hide under your desk and plug in your earphones. This is time to get stuff done.
Set aside an hour every day, or two afternoons a week, when you can work undisturbed. Let colleagues know that you won’t be answering emails. And think hard about what you need to get done in that time.
4. Break projects down into manageable chunks
You’ve just been served a delicious steak (or a stuffed pepper, if you’re so inclined). Do you gobble it down all at once, or cut it into smaller, more manageable pieces?
If the size of a task is freaking you out, take time to work out how it can be broken down into a series of smaller jobs. Think strategically – what step should you complete first, and what can wait?
In addition, this approach allows you to keep a close track on your progress.
5. Never forget the bigger picture
And finally, a fundamental principle of self-management: make sure you know what your priorities are. When you’re caught up in the daily grind, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision and lose sight of the bigger picture.
What should you prioritise? The colleague dropping emails into your inbox every ten minutes, or the project you’re a day behind on?
Well, I’ve kept you long enough. Back to your inbox.