A recent video blog by our mentor Natalie MacNeil really got me thinking about how I could start being more selfish with my time. Now that I am paying a bit of attention to this particular behaviour, the universe keeps putting what I need to hear right in front of me.
Enter "The Seven Day Weekend" by Maverick CEO and author Ricardo Semlar. This book found me via my dear friends Zoe and Bill, whilst on a fabulous holiday in the Malborough Sounds of NZ. Fitting really, because Semlar's book is all about creating a work life that empowers you to do more of the things you love.
Semlar's radical approach to business is all about breaking habits and questioning norms.
It's an inspiring and challenging read, and today I took immediate action on something I read in the book, applying the three 'why's' exercise Semlar advocates to my constant battle with my inbox. Here's how it goes….
WHY does it take me so long to respond to emails and clear my inbox?
Because I am prone to writing overly long-winded emails and I am subscribed to every list this side of the greenwich meridian
WHY do I write overly long-winded emails and subscribe to so many lists?
The former: because I am trying to build good relationships with people, which leads to more partnerships and clients. The latter: because I am shit-scared of missing out on something important!
WHY do I think longer emails lead to more business and more clients?
Because if I put more time and thought into it, people will like me more and be more likely to want to work with me!
BINGO. Perhaps my email ramblings are less about great relationship building, and more about my own need to be liked. And perhaps a lack of confidence in what I have to offer. I fear this may have a kernel of truth to it.
WHY am I so worried about missing out on something if I don't subscribe?
Because of FEAR. Yes, it's difficult to admit, but secretly I think I am afraid that if I unsubscribe from all those lists, webinars, and notifications I may miss the one big thing, the big secret, that will answer all my prayers and solve all my problems for me.
Hmmm, interesting what comes up when we dig a little deeper isn't it. And I must say, it's a little confronting to be admitting to these types of fears.
But to hell with it. Jo and I are committed to practicing what we preach, and being honest about our fears is one of them. So here are my two radical propositions for blasting through those fears and overcoming my inbox and time conundrum.
#1 Shorten my email responses drastically.
I can still build great relationships with shorter emails. This is not about being rude or never giving anyone quality responses. It is quite the reverse, in fact. It is about respecting my time limits,and those of others, by keeping my emails brief and to the point. Of course, the occasional rant, life story or piece of sage advice may still slip through, but in the main I intend to be ruthless (well, in a friendly kind of way). After all:
- Everyone gets fed up with their inbox, so people will understand if I sharpen things up a little.
- I will not only benefit myself by doing this, but also the people on the receiving end who will also find themselves with more time.
Here is the evidence of my radical proposition (via my new email signature)
The funny thing is, instead of dreading checking my emails this week, I can't wait to sink my teeth into them!
#2 Slash my subscriptions to newsletters, webinars, free gifts and whatever new shiny thing is coming across my screen as I surf the web.
If a webinar, subscription or free gift isn't getting Jo and I closer to achieving our two major milestones for the year, it is OUT!
- I will be unsubscribing to most of the newsletters I currently subscribe too. They clog up my inbox and I hardly EVER get to reading them. I will select a small number that I really value and set up RSS feeds, so that I can still check in with them regularly via GOOGLE reader.
- I will only sign-up for free webinars and content that directly relate to one of our key milestones. No matter how tempted I am! There are oceans of webinars and pdf files waiting for me in my email folders and it's got to stop. It's time to reign in my learning addiction.
Could you improve the quality of your life by questioning the way you manage your inbox?
Perhaps you've already got this one dialled, but if not, it may be time to question your assumptions about the value of emailing. Could you be spending more quality time with family and friends if you bit the bullet and got your inbox under control?
Delay no longer, take your life back!
We'd love to hear your tips for clearing your inbox and saving time on email. Please share them in the comments box below.