Your inbox is the enemy of time-management!

There are two kinds of working professionals:

  1. The good old employee
  2. The entrepreneur/business owner/freelancer

The employee is almost always at the mercy of other people’s agenda. There are tasks to be done, emails to be responded to, and meetings to be had. There’s just no way around it. And then they wonder where the heck did all that time go. When will they find the time to work on the important things?

The second set of working professionals — the entrepreneurs/business owners/freelancers — have the ultimate freedom to design their own days but they too are overwhelmed with the tasks to be done, emails to be responded to, and the meetings to be hand. Not surprisingly, most wonder if striking it out on their own was their best decision ever.

So, we’re looking at two different set of people with the same darn challenge — lack of time. And of course, the solution is the same — spend a fixed amount of time each working day living out of your inbox. This could be an hour, two-hours, or even up to four-hours (or half a working day) depending on your priority and length of that “important but not urgent list.”

The key is to focus on addressing the important before they become urgent and consume you. And the only productive day to get this done is by staying focused on the task at a hand. I know, it’s easier said than done, but there’s no way around it for sure.

If you’re wondering how you’re going to get those important things done if 99% of your information is either in your mailbox or one of your organisation’s shared drives, you’re not alone. And you’re also not thinking hard enough. Use technology to your advantage. Almost every email client and shared drive out there allows you to go offline, which means you can access all the emails and files without having to stay connected to the internet. Do that. Often.

Going offline or into “focused mode” (as I would like to call it) helps you not only get things done but also helps you get a grip on all the emotional overwhelm you experience while staying connected. Your inbox is the biggest culprit and the time spent away from it pays off handsomely. Even for full-time employees. As I’ve said before, you’re not paid to check and respond to emails but to solve problems nobody else can.

It’s worth remembering that technology is a tool and the moment it becomes a dependency, you’re being ruled by it. As they say, “Leaders lead, writers write, speakers speak,” but you won’t get any of that done if you’re head is buried in your inbox. Take your power back!

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