No, I am not channeling Timothy Leary (a bit before my time). And, it is not a contradiction. Stay with me for a moment – and you will understand why tuning out certain activities can help you ‘tune – in’ to those activities that add meaning to our lives.
Our lives are full of stress – we get the run-around; requests for help; falsely prioritized tasks – and, when you add general life (who will pick up the kids; take the kids to the doctor; make dinner; stay for the service person; budget issues etc.).
Bottomline – our lives are not our own.
Yes, there will be times when there is a request that really needs your attention.
But, do all of them need the highest priority?
The answer is ‘No’. Look at where you waste your valuable time – Email; social media; binge watching; water cooler gossip. Now, I am not saying that we shouldn’t do any of these things. EMail; FaceBook, and watching your favorite TV show is great. Even gossip (gasp) – provides a bit of camaraderie. But, when pervasive items (like EMail and Texting) take over our lives – we are no longer in control.
In Reality – We Become The Victims of Other People’s Agendas.
What do I mean by that? Have you ever been jerked around? Don’t you feel that way when you look at your Inbox or text messages? That is the impact that Email and texts have on you.
So, how do you Tune Out?
Ok – You looked at how these activities eat up your time. What did you find out? I am going to concentrate on the biggest ‘ankle biters’ here – but, I would venture a guess that Email and texting are the biggest hitters. I will not ask your to stop answering these messages – rather, manage how you answer them.
How many of you have checked your emails (and answered them, before you even got out of bed in the morning). May I ask – WHY?
What would be your answer?
We are all guilty of wasting time. But, let’s tease out one of the biggest time wasters – Email. Here is my suggestion with dealing with you Inbox…
Look at it 4 times a day. You read that right – 4 times a day – for about 30 – 45 minutes per session. That’s it!
Yes – let me explain my strategy.
- The first time is 30 minutes AFTER you arrive to work. This allows you time to plan your day according to what you really need to do. Yep – you are planning your day according to YOUR priorities. Once you have your necessary meetings and priorities scheduled – you can then look at what other people are requesting. Work on your initial schedule first.
- After Lunch. Why? Do you want to ruin your lunch and time with your co-workers thinking about the last ‘priority’ email you received? Enjoy your lunch and interaction. The request is not going to go anywhere. And, if they need before that 12:30 PM meeting – they knew about it before – but, procrastinated until ‘they’ couldn’t do it. Time for a hard discussion with the person requesting your time– why is this priority?
- Mid Afternoon. Those pesky requests will continue to filter in. Call the email sender and ask for some clarity on the absolute priority and how to get this done where you both win. (Note – you may need to schedule time for this).
- Last hour before the end of the day (for 30 minutes only). Write down who you need to follow up with in the morning. Then – tidy up your office and prepare for tomorrow.
- After this – work emails will wait until you get back to work. If it is urgent – you will get a phone call.
Yes, I know that people in the service industry and health care can’t do this. My suggestion is to cull your inbox and be tough – is this important? Not Everything Is
Now, ‘Tune In’.
What can you do with that extra time? Become present to you!! Sure, you can do more on your ‘need to do’ list. But, can you schedule items on your ‘want to do’ list? Tune into what you want to do – find time and seize the time.
Keep looking at your time and how it is being use. After a while – you will be able to increase the ‘tune out’ time and actually, be more present for the ‘tune in’ time.