Monday, April 19, 2010

5 Simpler Ways To Stop Working All The Time

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Work, work, work. It's never done, is it? And in the world where you're always connected to to everyone else in your network, the line between work-time and life-time is continually blurred. You feel like you're drinking from the fire hose hydrant, and it doesn't feel like it will stop.

Hey, I feel your pain. Really I do. I often get asked how I keep doing all the stuff I do without going insane or tapping into the quantum universe. To be honest, sometimes I do a rotten job at it. But most of the time, I do OK.

Here are five simple techniques I use to keep myself from working non-stop. While they work for me, YMMV.


  • Never work from your inbox
    Treat your email inbox like you do your snail-mail mailbox. Sure, you may spend a moment rifling through the letters while standing outside. But you certainly never shove things back in the mailbox to get to later.

    Why do you do this with your email?

    Get to inbox zero. Now. Stay there. Anything that needs working on, stick it in a folder. I call mine "Action". You can call yours "Work" or whatever else you like. This is where you move stuff to that needs your attention. This is your new repository of work items.

    If you can, shut off your new mail notification system. Checking mail isn't real work. Your real work is in that new folder you created.

  • Remove chatty news feeds
    You don't have to be first to know something. Mashable, Techcrunch, BoingBoing... all are great resources that you don't have to read. Why? Because someone else in your network is. Probably several people. Use your network as your filter of cool information. The biggest stories will cause serious tweeting, facebooking, and blogging from someone else in your network. Someone who is a lot less noisy than those other sources that simply overwhelm you.

  • Stop answering your phone
    Phones are interruptions. And you can tell who is calling. Concerned it might be an emergency? How often does that happen? Not very. And if it is an emergency, they'll call right back. Or reach out to you in another way. Use your voice mail to keep communications on your schedule.

  • RSVP with a "No"
    You don't have to attend everything you are invited to. In fact, you shouldn't. But you want to keep being invited, so be sure and respond to all RSVPs with a polite "no thanks". If you really hate missing things, ask someone who attended for a quick recap. It's not the same as being there, but is better than missing out all together.

  • Work on "battery time".
    Work expands to fill the time allotted for it. It also -- sometimes -- contracts as required. Working on a project that will take you longer than 2 hours? Break it up into chunks. Working on something that won't take 2 hours? Then go on to something else. Or simply stop when you are done with that project. Take a break. File some papers. Check your voice mail. Then get back to work. :)


Got a quick tip others could learn from? Leave it below.

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1 comment:

  1. I love the tip about the e-mail! I will try to put that into action.

    ReplyDelete