Do you get overwhelmed over the volume of email you get each day?
If you work in a business office, you’re bombarded throughout the day with electronic messages. Did you know that it takes an average of 2 minutes to open read and close an email? This means if you send and receive 50 emails per day – I realize this is likely a low estimate, you spend 100 minutes per day just on email. Let’s see, based on 260 days per year that works out to about 18 days you’re dedicating to email alone. All of this does not include any action or follow up the email may generate nor does it count texting or IM. You do your own math based on your volume.
Several years ago, I read the Hamster Revolution by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Tim Burress, which offered several strategies to reduce the time spent on dealing with email. They claim to save you 20% on your time. Their methods do work, though I never actually measured my results.
One of the ways they suggest to lessen the load is to use the ABC approach for messages you write:
Action Summary – one sentence specifying action, purpose or your key point
Background – body of message using bullet points and white space whenever you can
Close – niceties, next steps, and auto signature (this really saves you time).
You might identify with their hamster analogy if you expend a lot of energy handling messages while your real work piles up on the desk. Throw in frequent meetings, and you’re loading your brief case to take the work home. Not good. To establish more work/life balance, try different strategies to lighten the load.
In penmanship class in elementary school, the teacher had us write out sayings that she hoped would improve our character along with our handwriting. I guess there’s a lot to be said for repetition as a means of learning. I still remember this one.
“Good, better, best.
Never let it rest.
Until your good is better,
And your better best.”
This also pertains to the things we opt to do with our time. Each day, we make thousands of choices – what time to get up, what to eat, what to wear, what to do about situations that arise …. Each of these decisions impacts us differently. For example, if the alarm clock goes off at 6:00 AM and I hit the snooze alarm once or twice, I’m likely to be rushed or late for work. By not getting up when the alarm sounded, I actually elected the more hurried mode. At that hour of the morning, it may not have been a totally conscious choice; nevertheless, I can’t blame anyone else for the results.
Now as an adult, I still struggle to keep moving from good to better to best with a measure of consistency, especially when it comes to organizing my day. My list is usually longer than is realistically feasible to accomplish, but all too often, it’s the little choices – like that of the snooze alarm or computer – throughout the day that throw me off track.
One of my goals for this year is to live intentionally in order to make a difference in my world. This requires effective time management and wise choices. One of the things that helps me be more realistic is to use a timeline like those in an appointment book or on the Outlook calendar. With each activity planned for a designated block of time, not only can I visualize what can be accomplished, but I also see where it is critical not to get off task and how I can choose appropriately. My decisions for how I spend my time are progressing from good to better, and every once in a while, I even get one that’s best.