Hey Everyone, It’s been a long time since I’ve written a new post.
Honestly, I’ve been meaning to go back and fully maintain ‘The After Hours’ on a weekly basis, but I got caught up with new project, which takes, up most of my time.
I’ve been practicing some new productivity methods lately, which have made my life so much better. Working with these new methods have freed up tons of my time (I can actually get a two day work in about 7 hours) and has raised my quality of living, which makes me happier and much more relaxed. I want to share some of the things I’ve learnt in the next couple of posts, each talking about a different segments and practices of these methods.
Today, I want to talk to you about emails and interruptions.
Interruptions and refocusing time
Here’s the thing. We’re interrupted all the time. By notification, coworkers, emails, Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, Instagram, Gtalk, Skype. You name it.. With so much information coming at us at all times, it destroys our ability to stay focused & productive.
Interruptions consist of two parts:
1. Interruption itself.
The first part is easy, you get a new notification, see a new E-mail and you automatically switch to the relevant tab on your browser. Guess what, it’s worse than that. The moment you hear the sound of a notification or catch a glimpse of an incoming message on one of your tabs or iPhone notifications, you’re already interrupted and out of focus. Don’t take my word for it, check out ‘Smart ass academy’s’ smartphone – productivity experiment.
This leads us to the second part of the interruption process. Now you have to try and refocus on what you were doing. This will take about 25 – 30 minutes. You might get back to work after a few seconds, but your mind takes almost half an hour to refocus itself and switch back to “work” mode. That little Facebook notification just cost you 30 minutes.
For me, E-mails are the worst. A new E-mail implies that there is more work that needs to be done or just something to review. Either way, it’s going to keep my mind busy and it’s going to interrupt with my planed schedule for the day even though I probably won’t deal with it at the moment. This means it will bug me and ruin my focus and keep me from staying productive. To eliminate this problem I’ve started using Tim Ferris’s method for checking emails and I’m currently checking emails only twice a day.
How checking your email twice a day works:
The first few days I monitored my E-mail inbox to find out at what time did I get most emails. I found out that the peaks were around 10:30 and 18:00. 10:30 was late enough in the morning so the people I work with could get to their offices and start off their day – meaning, they send me all the important stuff that I need to schedule for the day. 18:00 O’clock was early enough so I could quickly respond to important e-mails sent throughout the day, set tasks for the following day or give overnight answers.
At 10:30 I’ll check my emails and follow the simple GTD process, (always trying to keep it under 30 min). If it’s an E-mail I can respond to or needs action that will take me under 2 minutes I do it right away. If it requires action that takes over 2 minutes I just copy its content to my designated Evernote Notebook (That’s another post altogether), and schedule it on my today’s to-do list in my ‘Things’ app. I copy the content to Evernote so I won’t need to log-in to my mailbox to get the information I need. Later on I’ll go to my Evernote e-mail notes at a scheduled time and process it into actionable items.
If part of this over- 2 minutes emails requires me to mail someone back , I’ll write my response on Evernote and at 18:00, I’ll send all my different answers at the same time. Again, letting me stay of my mail between 10:30 and 18:00.
Change the way we communicate
One of the best things about checking your E-mails only twice a day is that it makes your own E-mail writing much more efficient and it forces others to be more efficient as well.
Think of it this way, if you can email someone back and forward all day long, then you don’t mind sending tons of emails with only bits of information and discuss it via mail for several hours, that’s what happens most of the time. If you can only get one answer every 8 hours, then you won’t want to waste spare emails go through the wait again.
This way, you learn to be much more efficient in your writing and learn how to ask for the answers you want more clearly.
Lets say you want to set up a meeting. You would probably write some variation of this sentence:
“Yes, I’d be happy to meet you, when are you available?” you’d probably get an answer that goes like this: “Great, i’m free most of next week, when do you want to meet?” and so the long correspondence begins.
If you’ll rephrase your question to: “Yes’ I’d b e happy to meet you. Can you please send me several options for scheduling?” or “Yes I’d be happy to meet you. I’m available next week on Monday between 12:00-14:30, Wednesday between 13:00 – 15:00 and Thursday morning between 08:30 – 11:30, Is one of these dates convenient to you? If not, please send through possible dates for next week and we’ll take it from there”
You’ll probably get a short and to-the-point answer and you’ll shorten the conversation by 75%.
Your E-mails will become more efficient almost immediately, so as the E-mails you’ll be receiving. Master the art of writing efficient E-mails and you’re life will instantly become more productive.
Nothing’s going to happen. Trust me.
People check their mails a hundred times a day for two reasons: They are used to feeling busy (You’re just feeling busy, you’re not really busy) and they are afraid that something super important will happen and if they won’t catch it right away some horrible will happen.
I’ll let you in on a little secret – Everything’s going be OK even if you don’t check your email once a minute (Tweet this). Nothing horrible is going to happen. Worst Case Scenario, if something is that urgent you’ll get texted about it, best case scenario you’ll learn to put everything in proportion. Trust me on this one, you’ll value your time more and so will your clients.
Working with others
I consult several start-ups and brands on their community building and social media and growth hacking, so I know what it’s like to be needed more than twice a day on a daily basis. So I worked up a system with my clients – If it’s a basic to do / question, they’ll send it by email, if there’s a crisis or something that needs to be done right away (there rarely is) they’ll text me, if someone is dying they’ll call. On one of my next posts I’ll explain the calling – texting methodology. They know that I don’t take those texts of phone calls lightly so they appreciate and don’t abuse this connection line, but they know that if they really need me, I’m available for them at all times – for the serious matters. After all, this frees me to do better work for them and stay on top of everything almost flawlessly.
We’ve all gotten used to the idea that we need to be busy all the time, and we need to be available at all times. Working hard and working for many hours isn’t the same. Working hard is about working hard and the right way, not just working tons of hours. Keep your mind focus and you’ll live a happier and more productive life – on the work-level as much as the personal level.
Do this as an experiment for one week and tell me how it goes, I’d love to see how this works for you!