Time wasters… our day can be full of them. You know the kinds of things you try to avoid because they eat up precious minutes of your day, but sometimes they just feel unavoidable!
The reality is though at some point you have to put your foot down and, just like a toddler say, “You aren’t the boss of me!” If we don’t reign in the things that drain us of our time and energy, they will quickly control our schedule and create havoc, leading eventually to burnout!
As leaders we have a commitment and responsibility as communicators. People look to us for guidance, leadership and effective communication. This often happens in the form of emails, and LOTS of them! A common practice is to have notifications set up on your phone to alert you when you have a new email. That ping you receive on your phone also alerts you to the pressure and responsibility of responding to that email in a timely manner.
What if you just turned off those notifications? For an hour, or a day or even a month?? Carey Nieuwhof took this even a giant step further and stopped reading or responding to any emails for 21 days. Instead of spending time processing and returning emails, this summer he set aside 21 days for deep resting. This experiment was an attempt to help him “live today in a way that will help me thrive tomorrow.”
In his article No More Email: A Productivity Experiment That Is Paying Off, Nieuwhof explains how he went about simply killing email for 21 days and the impact it had on him. When he began to track the amount of time he spent simply on email and realized the stress it also brought with it, he understood some new boundaries needed to be set. He has an administrative assistant that could take care of most of the emails that showed up in his inbox.
Most of us don’t have an administrative assistant. Nieuwhof does share practical ways to establish healthy boundaries that will have a positive effect on your time and stress level. The simple act of changing your notification settings on your phone is one easy way. You can choose to simply turn off all email notifications and set aside a small window of time during each day when your energy level is already generally low to check emails and respond.
When we discipline ourselves to a specific window of time for emails it increases our productivity and helps clear our brain for other important matters. Nieuwhof experienced some surprising benefits that caused him to revamp how he plans to use email in the future.
Part of growing in leadership is taking the initiative to evaluate how we are doing with our time and productivity.
It may not be email that is a time waster in your day, but what steals your time on a daily basis? And what changes can you make to increase your productivity?