by Mandy Green, Busy Coach
So how many times have you checked your email today? 2, 5, 10, or too many to keep track of?
Almost everyone I talk to feels that email takes up too much of their time. For most of the coaches who contact me, I hear that they have their email open from the moment they get into the office until the moment they shut down their computer at the end of the day.
And if you are like most other coaches out there, you’re probably guilty of checking email when you get home and even on the weekends. You might find yourself worrying about emails during dinner, or when you’re supposed to be having some family time.
The problem isn’t knowing what to do. You’ve read plenty of advice telling you to close the inbox, to avoid checking emails first thing in the day, and to get on with your key tasks first. But are you doing it?
If you know what to do but are failing to execute on it, I want you to evaluate what your current mindset is about email.
Steven Covey has done a lot of work on this. He says that most people have one of 2 mindsets when it comes to dealing with work: urgency or importance. Whether you’re operating from a mindset of urgency or a mindset of importance, he believes will profoundly affect your life.
When you react to the urgent you tend to focus on the things that are right in front of you and “need” your immediate attention.
You act on the important by taking initiative to determine what the right things are and to take action on them.
When I am working with the urgency mindset, my inbox is always open and while I am getting work done, my brain seems to be hovering and waiting. Then my email chimes, the phone rings, or a text message beeps. Immediately my brain goes to- There’s something new! Somebody wants me!! I’ve got to respond!!!
How many of you can relate?
You get a dopamine hit, and in time you become dependent on the rush and excitement of new emails, phone calls, or texts coming in.
Like Pavlov’s famous dogs that were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell, we, too have been conditioned to respond with every new message that comes in.
And if you’re like most coaches you get a dozen of these little interruptions every hour—so if you do the math, you literally can’t focus on one thing for more than 5 minutes.
There is just no way to get significant work done that will move your program forward when you can only focus for short spurts.
Coach, we are not in the business of managing email. We are in the business of leading and influencing the athletes under your care. Anything that takes you away from that is a distraction and needs to stop immediately.
A great way to get out of the urgency mindset is to close your inbox and don’t use it as your to-do list.
Here are my 3 biggest problems with coaches who use their inbox as their to-do list.
- You are letting somebody else dictate your priorities. Basically, somebody else can control your day just by sending you a bunch of emails.
- As you are checking your to-do list (your inbox), other messages come in to demand your attention, and you’re always distracted.
- Your inbox organizes your emails in chronological order which makes it virtually impossible to have a prioritized to-do list.
The key to true productivity is not to get a lot of other people’s requests done, but to get the right things done—the important things.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage-pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically—to say no to other urgent things that are right in front of you demanding your attention.
I don’t know that it is possible to avoid urgent things all day long. I would recommend to find a few blocks of time where you can shut yourself off from the urgent and all you do is work on your important stuff. Even if you are only able to get a few hours of important work done, it is a great feeling knowing that you made your program or team a little bit better because of the work you got done.
If you want more ideas on how to control your email, please email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to share more ideas with you.
Need help getting your email and recruiting processes in order? Mandy Green is the leading productivity expert for college coaches through the work she does at Tudor Collegiate Strategies and her company, Busy Coach. You can email Mandy to set up a strategy call at firstname.lastname@example.org.