Happy Tuesday. The last week of the month is always a mix of feelings for me. I am able to reflect back on the past month and recognize areas of growth (personally and professionally), celebrate new clients, and think about the people that I met. However, it can also instill a sense of panic. Maybe I didn’t work as much as I thought, didn’t spend as much time being social as I had hoped for, or still have some projects waiting to be finished by the end of the month.
Today, I’m reminding myself it’s okay to take things slowly and get to things on my own time. I think that we live in the age of instant gratification. As a business owner, I love the feeling of checking my inbox to email responses. In fact, I keep it open at all times on my screen just so I can experience the little number popping up. While I thought this was somewhat normal, recently I’ve realized that it’s not. In fact, it could actually be hindering my productivity, focus, and happiness.
I know this might sound a little dramatic, but hear me out.
When a little (1) appears next to the word “Inbox,” I immediately feel the need to open and respond. While this might not sound like a bad thing, it takes my attention away from what I was doing. Whether I was writing for a client, working on my own blog, or taking a Buzzfeed quiz (don’t act like you’ve never done this during the workday), it distracts me from that place and brings me into a whole other place.
The thing is, each email is a different story. It’s a different client, different problem, different information, and different response. There’s no way to have a one-size-fits-all approach to answering emails, since most are in response to an inquiry, question I had asked, writing piece I had submitted for approval, or something completely different. In fact, articles like this one tell me that it takes over 23 minutes to recover from a distraction.
Okay, wow. So maybe I’ll close that email tab.
Emails aren’t the only distraction at work. In fact, they’re probably one of the least distracting ones. We’ve got our phones, our dogs (in my case), maybe an annoying sound we need to figure out, or a belly that’s telling us it’s time for a snack. However, if I can eliminate one of these, I’m going to do so. In my case, it’s closing that email tab. It’s giving myself back the peace of mind to complete what I’m currently working on before I move onto something new. It’s giving myself some freedom from feeling like I have to respond right away. This is especially true during breaks. Like the one I’m taking right now!
This isn’t just emails, either. It’s seeing a message pop up on your screen via Facebook, text message, Instagram, etc. So often we bend over backwards to go away from what we’re doing because we feel that we owe that person an instant response. Why do we do this to ourselves? I feel like we’re just asking to be driven crazy sometimes! Too often we give away our time, sanity, and happiness to give others a simple reply. When in reality, they wouldn’t notice if we didn’t. They wouldn’t notice if it took a few hours, or maybe even a day. This is a pressure that is in our own minds. It’s a mindset I think we need to start learning how to get past.
While I still haven’t figured out a perfect system, I’m going to challenge myself to check my email less and less. Some people I know only check their email twice a day. I’m not sure what my solution will be, but I do know that I need to help myself get past the mindset of giving everyone an instant reply. It doesn’t make me any better of or any less of a service provider, friend, family member, or business owner.
It just makes me human.
Has the want to give others instant responses or achieve instant gratification for yourself gotten in the way of your work? What are ways you combat this? I promise you, you’re not alone.