DO YOU HAVE A LACK OF WORK/LIFE SEPARATION?
If you never leave home without monitoring your work email and are obsessive about checking for new messages during every spare moment you have, be careful. You might just have a data addiction. Now, of course, that may not be the case, but it may be a habit you are at least looking to break. And how can you do this? One simple way is to keep your phone off the dinner table. It’s the easiest way to ignore incoming messages and calls. They can wait, at least until you have finished dessert. Another method to separate yourself from your inbox is to establish times you won’t be available for work. Note these times in your email signatures if you find yourself continually needing to remind colleagues about when you are going dark.
TIP: Take a vacation from your phone and go for a walk. And if you have an iPhone, use the built-in Do Not Disturb feature of iOS7.
DOES YOUR EMAIL INBOX SEEM OVERSTUFFED?
Does your inbox taunt you with more than 300 unread emails each morning? If so, you likely need to start prioritizing and categorizing your messages. Find a way to deal with them promptly and more efficiently. Hint: the delete key can be your friend. Use folders, and move less-critical messages to those folders to be dealt with later. What if later never happens? Good news: then you didn’t need to deal with these messages in the first place! And remember, different workers communicate using different styles and methods.
TIP: Pick up a copy of Mark Hurst’s Bit Literacy eBook and take note of his “zero inbox” strategy. A lot of email can be the by-product of how you communicate with coworkers. If it’s easier, pick up the phone or send someone an instant message to save yourself the anxiety of flooding your inbox with a bunch of response emails.
DO YOU NEED TO HIRE A GUIDE TO SEARCH YOUR TO-DO LIST?
Does your phone consistently overwhelm you with numerous event reminders every hour or day? Ideally, you should make a to-do list that you can comfortably accomplish and clear in just a few hours. Take care of quickly resolved items in the moment. I use my email inbox as a reminder for larger projects or tasks that I need to complete.
TIP: Use one event reminder program and keep pruning it, just like you should be pruning your email inbox. Some cloud based solutions such as Basecamp allow for teams to collaborate via a shared online space that links to their mobile, so they can track tasks and projects while on the go.
IS IT TIME TO CLEAR YOUR CLUTTERED DESKTOP?
We are talking about your virtual desktop, although the same could be said about your actual physical desk. Does your computer desktop look like any of these?
How do you find anything here? Desktops like these are almost useless for any real productivity. It’s not just information overload. It’s messy. As with email, use folders and sort items into like categories so that you can actually find what you need, when you need it.
TIP: Most of the time, these desktops are the product of workers having to navigate complicated folder structures on the company shared servers. Keep your folder structures simple and create shortcuts linking to your most used folders by dragging and dropping these folders on the server to your ‘favorites’ area.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL?
Most of us use email as our main communications channel, but your company might differ. The important thing is not to be too electronically available, with Facebook, instant messages, phone calls and texts all coming in during the work day.
TIP: Pick one method and try to let your colleagues know that is the best way to stay in touch so they won’t have to send out multiple messages to track you down