Waking up to the daily influx of emails, tweets, Facebook notifications, and text messages can seem daunting for many (or should I say most) of us.
Without a plan it always throws me into “reactionary mode” and I get sucked into a black hole of addressing other’s needs before doing what’s most important. If I’m not careful, I can look up and half my morning is almost gone. All I accomplish is reacting to everyone else, my productivity needle hasn’t moved at all – and I’m exhausted.
Didn’t someone say, “put the big rocks in first?”
I have a lot of friends who start responding to emails before they even get out of bed. I think that’s a mistake, and one I’ve made in the past. Whether you realize it or not, when you start your day looking through the digital porthole, you allow the people and situations found there to “color your day.”
When was the last time you received a ranting email from a coworker, or a message from an unhappy client and it didn’t cause your blood-pressure to go up? Do you react to your family and/or spouse differently after seeing these kinds of messages? Does it make you shorter, more anxious, or more focused on getting out the door as soon as possible to deal with the new issues at hand? I know I’ve been guilty of this. It can end up consuming my early morning, and if I’m not careful, creep into the rest of the day.
One of the most important things I’ve done to combat this, and help bring balance to my work-life, has been to be intentional about how and when I communicate with others.
For me it all starts in the morning. Rather than using the best and most productive part of my day, the early morning, to check email and address OPS (Other People’s Stuff) – I start by focusing on things that are more strategic and best accomplished by a rested mind. I don’t look at, or respond to, email before 8:30 or 9:00am. In the time before that I’m able to get more accomplished than I do the rest of the day. I am refreshed, focused, and distraction-free.
Are you struggling with this common communication battle too? Consider these five tips as you think about how to take control of your email and make the most of your morning:
1. Be intentional about when you respond to others
Stop checking your inbox before you get out of bed. Read, exercise, pray, meditate, or doing something strategic in the morning before the “noise” starts to filter in.
2. Prioritize OPS (Other People’s Stuff)
Take advantage of your rested mind and do your most important work before engaging or responding to others. Don’t let other people dictate your priorities. You can’t be effective at helping others until you’ve got your “stuff” in order.
3. ‘Quit’ your email application the night before
If you’re working to establish a new rhythm and need a little extra help – try quitting your email application the night before so you won’t be tempted to “peek” at your inbox when getting started in the morning.
4. Stop sleeping with your smartphone
Consider going back to the “old school” alarm clock if having your smartphone right there is a temptation to “peek” at your inbox in the morning.
5. Make a plan the night before
Make a plan for what you’re going to work on the next morning the night before. Outline the one or two most important things you want to get accomplished during that quiet, distraction-less time. Be sure to consider how much time you actually have available to complete these tasks.
So, how are you taking advantage of your rested mind before the noise of the day creeps in? Please let me know in the comment section below – I’d love to hear from you!