What do you struggle with at work? This is what I asked our digital experts here in Concern Worldwide. The answers kicked off an experiment into how to deal better with distraction and email stress. What we learnt changed the way we work. It might just change you too. It starts with talking.
It seems simple, but we need to talk to each other. Avoid the usual email wars, the usual mis-communication and the usual stress by getting up and walking over to the person or picking up the phone. Talk first and email later. Obviously, this won’t work all the time but try it.
This helped us create one of our new rules: if you are asking someone to do something for you, talk to them first. It seems like a small change, but already I can see a difference:
- There are fewer terse email exchanges between teams
- Less time is spent writing long emails and replying with even longer emails
- After talking, we often joke that our five minute conversation just saved us 20 emails
- Twice this week, I have learnt valuable things, that were vital to successfully fixing problems, that came about because we were talking
- These discoveries would not have happened via email and small problems would have become big problems
Think Of The Other Person
So, you’re going to talk to everyone now. Try and do this when it suits you and them. List the things you want to talk about with them and grab five minutes when it is convenient for both of you.
Personal Discipline Versus Email
The new approach of talking first will reduce your emails. But, the battle with email needs to be fought on many fronts. Personal discipline is a big part of it. We can decide when and how we open our inboxes. First step, don’t start your day with your emails. Take some time instead to figure out what your priorities for the day are. Then, decide when and for how long, you’re going to spend on email.
Get People Involved
In an ideal world, we could shut down our email whenever we wanted. But, most of us work with other people. So, think about the people you need to communicate with and include them in your plans to reduce your time in your inbox. Use your calendar to let people know when you’re available. It is useful too to have an agreed way of contacting you if something is really important.
Try One Thing
Apps, mobiles, tablets and newsfeeds are crowding our lives. Our desire to use them are underpinned by some basic needs:
- We want to find things out
- We want to hear what people (important to us) are saying
- We want to express ourselves
The most eloquent and effective way of doing that is listening and talking. So, let’s live less in your inboxes and talk more.