How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Still working to develop those good habits? Be more organized? Eat better? Exercise regularly? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but studies show that about now you are perhaps not keeping up with those new goals. According to one very cited statistic, only about 8% of us actually keep our resolutions, and most start our downfall after about 3-4 weeks into the new year. Welcome to week 5 of January, 2018! I truly hope you are one of the 8%, but if not, there is also research that shows that failing to keep your resolutions may not be all your fault. As the new year begins, we have BIG plans for change and tend to set unrealistic goals. The experts suggest that we start small by making incremental changes instead of the “go big or go home” mentality. So instead of cutting ALL sugar out of your diet, resolve to lessen your daily sugar intake or work for no sugar at 2 meals. Instead of exercising 7 days a week, resolve to start with 3 days or add 15 minutes to your two-a-week sessions. And if you struggle along the way, work to remember that each DAY is a new beginning, and you can reset and start again if necessary.
So how can we apply this more realistic resolution setting to communication? Well, let me throw out a few more statistics -- did you know that the average worker spends 13 hours per week on emails? We spend 28% of our work week reading, responding, and rearranging emails. Yikes! I think that we all need ways to better handle emails, so let’s make a resolution to work on “email exercises”! Before we get started, remember that to achieve maximum results from physical exercises (to get the most bang from the buck!), experts recommend that you change up your exercise routine to prevent overuse injuries, to build new muscles, to beat boredom, and to keep your brain focused. And depending on current physical health, time available, facilities and equipment, and even the budget, different people work better with different exercise programs. Let’s apply these same rules to email exercises. Here are some small changes (researched and recommended) for you to try. Find the ones that work for you and mix them up.
Once-a-Day - first thing in the morning, schedule a long period (at least one hour) to check emails and formulate a plan for the rest of the day.
5-a-Day - check your emails first thing in the morning, mid-morning, lunch time, mid-afternoon, and before you leave for the day.
AM/PM - check your email in the morning when you get to work and in the evening before you leave.
Take a Break - during the day, take 2 hour breaks from emails. Turn off all notifications and force yourself to focus on tasks.
Just like physical exercises, there are lots and lots of ways to handle emails. And depending on the day or project, you may need to be flexible, but I suggest that you try ALL of these email exercises. Maybe on Monday, check your email ONLY in the morning. Try the AM/PM method on Tuesday. Wednesday, Take a Break or try 5-a-Day. Find what works for you and use it (or them). etc Strategies believes that finding ways to better handle your emails will improve productivity and lessen stress. And with more time and less stress, you can work on your other resolutions! Good luck!