Tips for Time Management Today: Working Offline

If you read my blog from last week then you know we talked about approaches for emailing more efficiently. One of the ways that I strategically work on my emails is by using voice memos in a variety of ways.

First is when there is lengthy information that needs to be shared.

Second is if there’s any sensitive information or slight confrontation that needs to be addressed.

Lastly, if there is a celebration to be noted, a voice memo would be appropriate.

This week we are going to talk about an additional strategy that I have found has become increasingly useful in my business. I have noticed that there is something significant I need to feel when I go through my emails: progress. This is huge for me because I never feel progress.

The moment that I send an email out, three more have come in, so I always feel like I can never keep up, and I never have enough time to dedicate to my projects. It’s even frustrating to be in meetings because I know how many emails are piling up in my inbox every moment that I’m not by my computer.

I bet if you’re reading this blog, you have felt that way too. I know that you feel the “tug” when you’re standing in line at Starbucks, when you can’t seem to put your phone down. This is the temptation you have constantly when you’re driving, and you’re thinking, “Okay I have 30 minutes, how many emails can I check before I arrive at my destination?” We feel that way sitting at the dinner table because we all see each other on our cellphones.

There’s a constant struggle between checking your email and doing everything else that’s right in front of you. That could be family conversations, time at the baseball field, or sitting in a meeting with a client. But yet that little alert on your computer says, “You have new mail,” and it just grasps you and pulls you in. You can’t seem to ignore it.

So here’s one of the things that I have found that has become really helpful, not only creating mental space for me, but also helping me feel the progress of moving forward when checking emails. First of all, I really try to discipline myself by checking emails only three or four times a day at very strategic times: first thing in the morning, right before lunch, right after lunch, and towards the end of the day, around 5:30.

I believe it is important to have designated times for doing this. I use these times as mental rewards that if I can just make it through these time blocks, then I’m going to give myself permission to check email and get as much covered as I can. But if I continue to do it all day long, no projects get my time and attention, and all I do is create more emails because of the constant back and forth.

The first tip is just learning how to discipline yourself into strategically checking your emails at certain times during the day. However, the more important part of today’s blog is to actually talk about the power of working offline.

Now, ironically I discovered the importance of this because I travel a lot on airplanes. Many of them today have Wi-Fi, but some of them still don’t. What I have found about working offline on airplanes is that I’m able to get through 50, 60, or 70 emails in an hour because there’s no one to respond back to me. They’re not getting my email. Whereas when I’m online, I may be able to get through 20 or 25 because of the constant communication that’s going back and forth.

I’m able to get through many more emails in a shorter amount of time, and this makes me feel like I am making progress in my inbox and actually creates momentum for me. I’m able to think clearly and focus on each topic.

The other thing I have noticed is that when you do respond to emails online during the day, there is a lot of back and forth communication about the same topic. What you could say in five or six emails is typically a two-minute phone call. Somehow we are more inclined not to make this call. What I have found is that working offline allows you to do three really important things:

  1. It helps you get more done in less time.

  2. It cuts down on email traffic because you’re eliminating the back and forth.

  3. It allows you to have more focus on independent topics because you’re not being pulled by every new ding that alerts you of a new email.

Next time you’re tactically trying to get caught up in your inbox, I challenge you to schedule certain times throughout the day to check your emails and also work offline. Once you’re ready to send those emails, you go online and everything sends at once. I always do this at the end of the day because I don’t want to create that “back and forth” again. If it can wait till tomorrow, I let it wait till tomorrow. This makes me feel like I’m ahead; and by feeling ahead, it makes me more empowered to start all over and do it again tomorrow.

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