How many times have you been in deep in thought while working on a critical project to then be distracted by your e-mail notification popping up? Our need to be continually connected to the world has created an environment of continual distractions costing companies millions in productivity! This is just one example of the distractions that cost companies countless hours of productivity! The larger concern is leadership training today typically does not address these distractions.
I was recently helping a client develop a make-to-order production-scheduling tool that to reduce the time for this daily task by 66%. We were developing the model in excel first before taking time to program the system. As I was deep into developing the logic my email notification popped up. Ugh! If you have ever done complex equations in excel you’ll know the frustration I felt due to the distraction. The bigger issue was this email was not urgent however the act of stopping to read the email then going back to the scheduling model took me about 15 minutes. My frustration was not with the email but with the fact that I knew better! I had forgotten to turn off my email!
Studies by the University of California, Irvine, found that “a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption”. What does this mean for personal productivity? I think the answer is fairly obvious. Addressing the e-mail distraction issue is often over looked.
How much has this often overlooked distraction cost you and your company in productivity over the past year? As a business leader who is looking to achieve great results, you absolutely must get email to work FOR you. When we are helping our clients conquer their profit and performance challenges in the short term and sustain them for the long term, we have found that the answer is a combination of both small changes in addition to the larger ones that help the breakthrough changes occur. In a large number of our clients we have found that winning the email battle is a necessity for leadership to achieve breakthrough results.
Based on my experience coupled with a number of leadership productivity books and articles in recent years, I have found a common theme among top performers in any industry. These top performers practice a short list of habits to optimize their focus and time when performing tasks. One of these habits is managing the distractions of which e-mail is at the top of the list.
When managing the e-mail distractions, executives and top performers use these 4 key strategies:
Manage expectations with auto responses to inform your sender of a window where they can expect a response.
This is a brief e-mail set up similar to an “out of the office” response notifying your sender that e-mail is only checked periodically and to expect a response within a determined number of business hours from the time your receive their email.
An example of this auto responder is, “Thank you for your email. To allow me to focus 100% of my attention on helping our clients, I only check my email at specified times of the day. I typically respond to emails within 8-12 business hours. Thank you for your understanding. Best Regards, David”
I have seen response time between 8 business hours up to 12 business hours. Choose the response time that works for you knowing that 90% of the time it will be much faster.
Answer e-mails during times when you are not at your peak from an energy and mental alertness level.
Everyone has a time of day where they are more focused and alert. Your executives and high performers need to reserve this time of day to work on the tasks that require high amounts of concentration and focus. The times allocated to reading and responding to e-mails should be during their off-peak hours of the day.
I am a morning person. I am more productive and alert early in the morning while Pete, our CEO of Win Enterprises, LLC is an evening person. When we are working on an important project together Pete will stay up late working on it then pass it to me where I will get up early to continue the progress. I schedule times to review and respond to emails at alternative times of the day outside of my morning peak period.
Schedule times of the day to look at and respond to e-mails.
For those of us who are connected to the world 24/7, this habit takes a higher level of determination and perseverance to master than the others. Top performers have found that by dedicating only certain times of the day to read and respond to e-mails they are less distracted and therefore much more productive. Depending on the article/book, some allocate one longer period in the day while others have found two to three smaller periods work better for them.
This is one strategy where you may want to experiment to see what works best for you. The harder part of this habit is holding to your scheduled times. I have found that turning my email completely off works best when working on other activities to avoid email distraction altogether.
Use the no scrolling rule.
This habit is focused on keeping the e-mail short and sweet and training your team to do the same when sending you emails. When writing the e-mail, the goal is to summarize the message in a way that the recipient can see the entire e-mail without requiring them to scroll down. This increases the likelihood that the e-mail will be opened and read in its entirety in a timely fashion. How many times have you opened an e-mail, found it to be very long, and made the decision to “read it later” which may never come or not read it at all?
Expect to see a large productivity jump throughout your company by implementing these four productivity habits for your e-mail. As the CEO or Senior executive who is looking to achieve great results, you absolutely must get your email to work FOR you and help your team to do the same.
David Tweedt is President of Win Enterprises, LLC. He helps visionary business leaders conquer their profit and performance challenges in the short term and sustain them for the long term. He helps leaders double their profits following their guaranteed methodology and proprietary frameworks with a goal of doubling profits in 6-8 years.
Industry-Leading Guarantee! Our commitment to you: When you follow our recommendations, your annual Return on Investment will be greater than 100% of your investment with us or we’ll keep working with you until it is.
David is contributing author of the Best Selling Book! – Elite Business Systems: Insider Strategies of Industry Leading Consultants
If you are not achieving the results you want, then contact David to learn more about how he can help you maximize your results. Learn more at www.CompleteBusinessTransformation.com Contact David: David@winenterprisesllc.com
David is an innovative Transformation Expert with over twenty years of experience living and breathing Lean thinking in an engaged high performance culture. David is a thought-leader on organization wide Lean Operating Models utilizing the Win Enterprises’ framework, Win Holistic Transformation Model™ driven by The Transformation Curve™. He is contributing author to the best seller Elite Business Systems: Insider Strategies of Industry Leading Consultants. He is also co-author of Win the Game, The Ultimate Guide for Your Successful Business Transformation. (Current release date – December 2017) Learn more at www.CompleteBusinessTransformation.com. Contact David: Info@WinEnterprisesLLC.com
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