27th March, 2017

You’ve just woken up, and are greeted by the ‘ping’ of notifications of emails sent by enthusiastic clients at 3am when they’ve had a business-related epiphany. You jump out the shower, and you receive both a text and a calendar notification reminding you of a meeting this afternoon… You haven’t even had breakfast, and you may have looked at your phone for business related reasons 15-20 times already. With so many efficiency apps and communication methods becoming common-place in our lives, are we really ‘saving time’ and becoming more efficient? In my experience, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ‘switch off’ from distractions during the day, and ‘switch off’ from work in our valuable downtime. So what can we do to change this?

One of the biggest tips I can give, from experience, to try and reduce the number of distractions that I am subjected to during the day is to strictly ‘limit’ my email checking and responding sessions.  As a remote worker, I don’t always work conventional hours – though I do try to, as much as possible, for the benefit of my more traditional business customers.  As my hours are sometimes subject to flexibility and change, it is very easy to get in the habit of sending emails at all times of the day (and night), or at weekends and public holidays, especially as many of us receive our work emails on our phones, tablets and even smart watches!  However, I have discovered that when you send messages ‘outside’ of traditional working hours, you are opening yourself up to receiving messages outside of these hours as well.  Of course, some of these emails are important and need to be sent immediately – I try to ensure that ‘urgent’ or ‘important’ is used in the email title to convey this importance.  However, in reality, the majority of these emails aren’t actually that urgent, and could quite easily be sent during a 9am-5pm weekday window - there are plenty of apps and ad-ons for your email to help you manage this as well - Boomerang is a great one.

According to the CMI, time amounting to 29 days of every year is spent checking work emails that is a huge amount of time!  I try to limit my email-checking window to the first hour of every day working day and then just twice after that, so that the ‘ping’ of a new email hitting my inbox (mostly unimportant or unrelated content from non-customers) doesn’t distract me from the task at hand.  Of course, if you are waiting for an important email, this approach doesn’t always work, but for the 90% of time that I can positively adopt this strategy, I definitely find that I am less distracted and can work more efficiently.  I can also relax more efficiently in my downtime, as I have given myself ‘permission’ to not worry about the majority of non-urgent client emails until my designated working hours.

When you are self-employed or work from home, it is so easy for work to creep into every aspect of your day-to-day life and consume what little down-time you allow yourself.  Take a step back. Breathe. It’s unlikely that your immediate response to an email is going to cure major illnesses or result in global disarmament.

Though, if it is, you’re probably going to want to answer it pretty sharpish.

Share this:

Copyright © Kathy Soulsby. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions