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It is dreadfully easy to find yourself on 10-50-100 newsletter lists.

If they all publish once a week, that’s an extra 10-50-100 emails each week (520 – 2600 – 5200 each year).

Let’s face it, none of them is important enough to interrupt your job on a daily basis.

It’s a good practice to re-evaluate the newsletters and ezines you are receiving. Tell the truth – are you reading it? Are you interested in the topic? Are you feeling guilty for NOT reading it?

Unsubscribe from those you don’t read or are not interested in.

Also unsubscribe from those you didn’t subscribe to in the first place!

Clear out the clutter. Free up the space and energy for something more important.

 

© Terry Monaghan, 2013 ~ All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.

How do you manage interruptions?

Have you ever noticed how many things will interrupt you throughout your day? And how often?

I have heard that we get interrupted, on average, about once every 6 to 8 minutes throughout the day. And, that it can take us 10-15 minutes (or more) to get our focus back on what we were doing before the interruption.

There is a real problem with that! The math doesn’t work! By those standards, the first interruption will derail your whole day.

What can you do about it?

Dan Kennedy says “If they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.” But in these days of 24/7 connectivity and accessibility, how do you make yourself un-findable?

Here are some things you might want to consider:

Turn off your email

Really, shut it off. Not for the whole day (I can hear you hyperventilating), but consider turning it off while you are focusing on that report you need to write, or that project you need to give your attention.

Let your calls go to voicemail

Maybe I am odd. But, I really have no trouble turning off my phone when I am in a meeting, or when I am working on something that requires my undivided attention. The world will not end if I don’t answer my phone for an hour!

Work somewhere else

Book a conference room, and close the door. Go to a coffee shop, or the library, or the park. Take yourself away from your own environment – co-workers won’t be able to stick their heads into your office/cubicle, and all the things that are distracting in your own office are not where you are.

Have a specific place for your work

If you work from home, have a specific place in your home to do your work. This really helps me. It is too easy to goof off if I am working on my living room couch instead of in my office. Everything in my office is about work. Everything in the rest of my home is about relaxation or play. If you don’t have a separate room, at least have a work area you don’t use for anything else.

Give yourself a break

Don’t try to focus for more than about 90 minutes at a time (at the most). Give yourself frequent breaks. This is a great way to deal with bright shiney object syndrome. I can focus on anything for a while, knowing that I will be able to take a break and distract myself in a little while.

These are just some of the techniques that will support you in managing the inevitable interruptions. Because they aren’t going to go away.

Now, which one are you going to try?

(c) Terry Monaghan, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.

Is an empty inbox even possible?

Did you know that studies indicate most of us in business are spending up to 3 hours a day just trying to deal with incoming email? This time doesn’t include doing any of the work associated – just trying to get through the inbox. And if your email pushes through to your BlackBerry or iPhone it can be even worse!

3 hours a day equates to over 19-1/2 weeks a year – just trying to get through the inbox. No wonder it seems to be so overwhelming.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is just insane. I remember when I first heard those statistics. I realized that I was not spending any where near that amount of time dealing with my email, and I didn’t think I was the only one. I went on a hunt to identify what others were doing to manage this, and found we all had something in common.

It’s no big secret – we had all established a process and protocol that we use to manage our email. This process and protocol has just a few parts to it. And, if you implement even one of the steps, you will see an immediate result.

Here is my six step process:

  1. Establish protocols. When will you check your email? How quickly will you respond to incoming email? Make no mistake, if you don’t establish your own protocol, one will be established for you by default. The default is what we now have – 3 hours a day (or more) treating email as if it were some form of instant message, and allowing ourselves to be continually interrupted by incoming messages.
  2. Set up some rules to divert email you don’t need to see immediately. I have rules that move newsletters into reading folders, and other rules that move messages sent to a particular email account (yes, I have more than one) into its own folder. So what actually ends up in my inbox is already somewhat sorted.
  3. Turn off the feature that automatically checks for email every 5-10-15 minutes. (That is the push.) Instead, pull the email in to the inbox at the time you set to check your email.
  4. Turn off that shadow popup (or sound) that notifies you of new mail. Studies indicate we get interrupted, on average, every 6-8 minutes throughout the day. And, it takes us up to 10 minutes to re-focus on the task we were working on when the interruption occurred. That math doesn’t work! So, eliminate the interruption.
  5. Process your inbox systematically. I like to think of the inbox as a place where items land and the action is to sort. The inbox is not a place for things to live. The goal is an empty inbox at the end of each sort. Here are some sorting criteria that work well:
  • Read and delete (you don’t have to do anything else)
  • Read and respond (simple acknowledgment or one line response)
  • Read and schedule for future action (including delegating)
  • Read and file

I said six steps – so what is the last one? Stop treating email as if it were instant messaging. We have developed a culture that treats email as if it all required an instant response. Stop! You can put an automatic response on your email that alerts people to your rules and protocols. This will manage their expectations regarding when you will respond and can give them a way to contact you if something needs to be dealt with quicker. Trust me, they won’t get upset, and you won’t receive five more emails asking why you didn’t respond to the first one.

This is what you can expect: As I write this, I average around 250-300 incoming emails every day. I check the email generally twice a day – in the morning, and towards the end of the day. Each time, I spend no more than 30 minutes (and usually quite a bit less time) sorting, responding and scheduling action. Then, I turn it off till the next time.

A few years ago, I took a vacation to Ireland with my brother and sister. Every hotel we checked into had computer access. My brother and sister were checking their email every single day. I didn’t. I was on vacation. Instead, I had already scheduled my first day back as a catch up day. I came home to 894 new emails in the inbox (many others had been diverted). After two hours, every single one had been read, sorted, and scheduled appropriately. And I was caught up on what had been happening while I was away.

Give it a try. It works every single time.

(c) 2010, Terry Monaghan
Want to use this article in your ezine or website?
You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, a weekly ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.

Managing Your eMail Inbox

I am sure you have heard the reports that the average business person is receiving 470 emails every week, and is spending up to 15 hours a week just trying to get through the inbox. This doesn’t count the time spent doing any actual work on what has come in.

If you do the math (and I did), that is up to 19-1/2 weeks just sorting through the inbox. That is just crazy!

So, what to the rest of us do? Because I am definitely NOT going to be spending 19-1/2 weeks in my inbox this year.

First, set up a time to check your email. Disable the automatic send/receive, or disable the automatic notifier – so you won’t get sucked into the vortex. Then, during the scheduled time – motor through your inbox using the following steps:

Divert – set up rules for various types of email that you don’t need to see right away. For example – newsletters you have subscribed to, or mail from the one person who still insists on sending you the joke (or hoax) of the day. Send them all into their own folder (or the trash), and check them when you can.

Read and delete (or file) – look to see how much of your messages are just something you need to read and can then just file or delete. No response is required. No further action is required.

Read and respond – some messages can be dealt with quickly. You don’t need any more information, you can just respond and move on. Do that.

Read and schedule for future action – then there are those that need some further action. So, either file in your ‘to be scheduled’ folder, or go ahead and schedule it, and then you are done with it until the time arrives to act.

I’ve been doing this for years. I get 70-100 emails every day. I spend about 30 minutes a day going through the inbox, and it is empty when I am done with that time block.

Even if you only add one of these steps to your routine, it will make a difference.