Home » The Progressive Professional… A Guide for Quality Living – February 2018

The Progressive Professional… A Guide for Quality Living – February 2018

Email can take up your entire day with little to show for it. Try using the 4 D’s to improve how you manage email.

If you read and acted upon the suggestions in the January newsletter, you should now be focused and have your goals for all areas of your life identified and documented – at least well enough to know what you are going to achieve and when! Have you made progress? Are you checking every request to make sure it matches up with your values and goals? If not, you are probably not yet in full control. If you have, Yea!!

Let’s assume you are on the road to life balance and improving productivity to achieve your goals. Now that you know the “what” you want to do, you may need some help with the “how”. How do I accomplish my goals with the desired quality? The answer is to continually look for ways to improve your productivity without sacrificing quality. Here are a couple suggestions that have worked for me and others:

Chunk it down. We often become procrastinators when a task or objective seems too big to get done in a reasonable time. What usually happens is we avoid it until the deadline looms and then sacrifice quality to deliver on time. Rather than stress over those large tasks, objectives, or projects, break them down into smaller “chunks” – something you can accomplish in 30-60 minutes. Then, you will make continued progress by simply scheduling time to work on one or two of the “chunks” each day. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel about the accomplishments of your day. Mark Twain said it best: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Limit the time you spend on unimportant items. Many of us are overwhelmed by the number of things coming at us every day. Email, for example, can take up your entire day with little to show for it. It seems urgent and important because it is “in your face” (or inbox) and often arrives with a notification asking you to check it out right away. If you’re a person like me that doesn’t like having things “waiting” for my attention, then you need to manage those things. By setting limits on time spent on unimportant things you force yourself to focus on the important things. For example, checking email three times a day for 10 minutes or less will allow you to keep up (your inbox should only contain items you haven’t read yet!) and, force you to handle it efficiently. Use the 4 Ds to improve how you manage email. Once you open the message, you must: Do it (respond immediately if it will take less than 2 minutes), Defer it (if it will take more than 2 minutes to respond, plan it forward by dragging it to your calendar or task list), Delegate it (send to someone else to handle), or Delete (or file it – the Trash is a file folder!). Delete it from your Inbox or you will waste time reopening it to see what it was.

For other unimportant items, make them as efficient as possible. Going to get coffee or the restroom? Limit yourself to one short conversation with a colleague. Have errands to run? Combine as many as possible into one trip.
Now that you have focused your time on the important goals and reduced the time spent on things that are not as important, it’s a great time for a gut check – are you getting more done? Are you progressing on your goals? If not, go back and review what you are doing and see if you can make improvements! Change takes time so be patient with yourself; yet, not so patient that you lose sight of the goals! Till next time, keep up the good work!