One full week into my one-touch email challenge, and while I’m not entirely successful in one-touching every email yet, I’m seeing a big productivity improvement from just this small mindset change – so I’m pretty pumped.
In telling myself that I couldn’t open an email unless I was ready to respond to it, I shifted my mindset and now don’t delay on responses. Sometimes I do open an email without answering it immediately, particularly when I’m walking from one place to another and habitually click through my inbox without thinking about it. Oops! But when I get to my computer and sit down, I make a conscious decision whether I’m going to be in my email or in Powerpoint/Excel/etc – and I’m not endlessly scrolling through the same emails over and over. I still alt-tab over to see if anything new/urgent has come in, but once I’ve skimmed the subject lines, I’m out of there, and focusing on whatever my top priority is.
Furthermore, when I am in my inbox, I end up going through my emails rapid fire and knocking them out quickly. Email has become less of a time suck and more of a quick means of communication – like it was intended to be all along) As of tonight, I literally have no emails from the last week in my personal email inbox, client email inbox, or firm email inbox. (Though I still have a backlog from previous weeks I need to keep working through…)
Overall, I think the no-procrastination mindset is starting to become habitual, and permeate into other areas as well. On Friday afternoon, I knocked out a ton of non-client tasks on my to-do list that I’ve been putting off for a while. Is it possible that forcing myself not to procrastinate in one area can change my mindset and encourage me not to procrastinate in other areas as well? There’s probably some research on this, but I think it’s really summed up by this quote:
Mindsets are sticky and habitual – and it’s easy to get stuck. When I start the day with a workout (like summiting Mount Sanitas, above), it makes me feel like I’m both healthy and accomplished. I unwittingly try to keep that momentum going by making good food choices and by continuing to be productive. In contrast, when I sleep in and skip my morning workout, I feel like a loser, and I’m not as productive at work. Plus, those are always the days when I’m dying to eat everything in sight – even though I didn’t burn any calories! Go figure.
The way you do anything is the way you do everything, and I think it’s a lot easier to keep doing things the same way rather than changing back and forth based on the activity. (For a rebuttal to this quote, check out Carla’s excellent post here.) When I tell myself that I can’t delay responding to an email once I’ve read it, I’ve put myself into a mindset that I can’t delay doing anything once I’ve started it. There are certainly some occasions where switching tasks is beneficial, but most of the time, this is a dramatic improvement in my productivity.
One week is a very short time to see results, and yet, I feel like this one little change has made a big impact. Now let’s see if I can stick with it! Anyone want to join me in this challenge for the rest of the month?