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Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Email Productivity Tips. Reduce Stress. Get More Done.

Reading emails as they come in is killing your productivity.

You’re at your desk working on a project. Aka, doing actual work. You think, “It’s been three minutes. I should check my email.” So you take your attention off your project and check your email. Then you read the five emails that came in since you last checked email. You then go back to the project you were working on and spend 10 to 20 minutes trying to get your head around what you were doing before reading those very important emails. Finally, you’re back in the groove. You do five minutes of work and think, “I should check my email.”  Then it’s 5:30 pm and you realize, with frustration, that you finished nothing all day.

Email ProductivitySound familiar?

Living in our email inbox is why many of us start work at 5:00 pm or come into the office at 7:00 am to get “something done while it’s quiet.” It’s why we sleep and go on vacation with our phones, and are never really off.

I am most productive on airplanes without WIFI. Without WIFI I’m not tempted to check my email every three minutes or check Facebook to read about what people I barely know and don’t really care about are doing.

Without WIFI all there is to do is what I need to do. There are no other meaningful distractions, except for the B-grade movie I didn’t really want to see anyway. I am focused. And as a result, I get a lot done. I’m also less stressed. Because I’m focused, doing one thing a time, I’m not worried about everything I still need to do.

If you want to get more done and be less stressed, do one thing at a time, for a defined period of time. Decide how long you’re going to work on something, and work on that item for that period of time, with no distractions or interruptions. You may only work on something for ten or twenty minutes, but do only what you said you would do for that time period. Then you can check your email.

Productivity experts suggest you only check your email three times a day, for example, once in the morning, right before or after lunch, and at the end of the day. I find this hard to do. Like you, I feel pressured to check my inbox. Or I use my email to avoid the work I really need to do. But I know that constantly being in my email inbox has me distracted and not doing the work I really need to do. And as a result, I’m stressed and spend my evenings and weekends working on projects that require focused time.

Do one thing at a time, for a defined period of time. Just try it. If you’re going to read your email, give yourself 20 minutes, and do nothing but read, reply, and delete email. At the end of 20 minutes, do whatever you said you would do next, for as long as you decide, and nothing else.

See if you get more done, in less time, with less stress. You might just leave work earlier and have time to do something besides work.

 

 


Stressed? Want Work Life Balance? Create It.

Your job will not tell you that you need a vacation. Your company won’t tell you that you look tired and it’s time to go home. Your job is like a toddler. It wants and will take more, more, more. You need to decide what you’re willing to give.

Admittedly, I’m terrible at work life balance. I’ve always lived twenty minutes or fewer from my office so that I could easily go in on evenings and weekends. I gained twenty pounds the first year I worked at OppenheimerFunds because I never left the office before eleven p.m., and the only thing around to eat late at night was candy. No one told or expected me to work the hours I did. I put this pressure on myself.

Some of us enjoy working long hours. We love what we do. Work is where we derive a great deal of fulfillment. There is nothing wrong with working long hours and getting a great deal of enjoyment from your work. Just don’t blame your organization when you’re tired, stressed out, or out of balance.

You are accountable for your happiness at work.

Every time you email an internal or external customer on a weekend, take a work-related call at 8:00 pm, or check your email while you’re on vacation, you’re training the people you work with that you are always available.

Some of my clients’ employees tell me they feel taken advantage of by their organization and feel leaders’ expectations are unrealistic. As a result employees work more hours than they want to and miss vacations and evenings with their kids. The managers tell me they’re not expecting employees to work the hours employees say they feel pressured to work, so where’s the disconnect?

I suggest talking with your manager about her expectations.

The conversation could sound something like this:

“I want to make sure I’m meeting your expectations. When are you expecting X project to be done?

How are you evaluating my success? What does a good job look like?”

Or, “I’m stressed and am finding myself working evenings and weekends. I’d like to get a better understanding of your expectations about X project. I might be putting this stress on myself.”

I’m not suggesting being lazy or cutting corners. Work hard. Do good work. And know your limits.

In Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In, Sandberg shares a story from her career when the manager of one of the McKinsey & Company offices, where Sandberg worked, realized that every person who left the organization blamed burnout and exhaustion for the reason for their departure. Upon some research the manager discovered that each of these exiting employees had unused vacation time.

Here are my work life balance tips:

  • Set realistic goals.
  • Under promise and over deliver.
  • Work reasonable hours, then go home.
  • Recharge your batteries in whatever way fills you up.
  • Get enough sleep. Everything feels and works better when we’ve had enough sleep.

See yourself as accountable for creating work life balance. Stop waiting for your boss to tell you you need a break. Send yourself home.


Email Productivity Tips. Reduce Stress. Get More Done.

Reading emails as they come in is killing your productivity.

You’re at your desk working on a project. Aka, doing actual work. You think, “It’s been three minutes. I should check my email.” So you take your attention off your project and check your email. Then you read the next two emails that come in and check your voicemail. You then go back to the project you were working on and spend 10 to 20 minutes trying to get your head around what you were doing before reading all of those very important emails. Finally, you’re back in the groove. You do five minutes of work and think, “I should check my email.”  Then it’s 5:30 pm and you realize, with frustration, that you finished nothing all day.

Email ProductivitySound familiar?

Living in our email inbox is why many of us start work at 5:00 pm or come into the office at 7:00 am to get “something done while it’s quiet.” It’s why we sleep and go on vacation with our phones, and are never really off.

I am most productive on airplanes without WIFI. Without WIFI I’m not tempted to check my email every three minutes or check Facebook to read about what people I barely know and don’t really care about are doing.

Without WIFI all there is to do is what I need to do. There are no other meaningful distractions, except for the B-grade movie I didn’t really want to see anyway. I am focused. And as a result, I get a lot done. I’m also less stressed. Because I’m focused, doing one thing a time, I’m not worried about everything I still need to do.

If you want to get more done and be less stressed, do one thing at a time, for a defined period of time. Decide how long you’re going to work on something, and work on that item for that period of time, with no distractions or interruptions. You may only work on something for ten or twenty minutes, but do only what you said you would do for that time period. Then you can check your email.

Productivity experts suggest you only check your email three times a day, for example, once in the morning, right before or after lunch, and at the end of the day. I find this hard to do. Like you, I feel pressured to check my inbox. Or I use my email to avoid the work I really need to do. But I know that constantly being in my email inbox has me distracted and not doing the work I really need to do. And as a result, I’m stressed and spend my evenings and weekends working on projects that require focused time.

Do one thing at a time, for a defined period of time. Just try it. If you’re going to read your email, give yourself 20 minutes, and do nothing but read, reply, and delete email. At the end of 20 minutes, do whatever you said you would do next, for as long as you decide, and nothing else.

See if you get more done, in less time, with less stress. You might just leave work earlier and have time to do something besides work.


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