September 12, 2016

September Goal Check In: Week 1

One full week into my one-touch email challenge, and while I’m not entirely successful in one-touching every email yet, I’m seeing a big productivity improvement from just this small mindset change – so I’m pretty pumped.

In telling myself that I couldn’t open an email unless I was ready to respond to it, I shifted my mindset and now don’t delay on responses. Sometimes I do open an email without answering it immediately, particularly when I’m walking from one place to another and habitually click through my inbox without thinking about it. Oops! But when I get to my computer and sit down, I make a conscious decision whether I’m going to be in my email or in Powerpoint/Excel/etc – and I’m not endlessly scrolling through the same emails over and over. I still alt-tab over to see if anything new/urgent has come in, but once I’ve skimmed the subject lines, I’m out of there, and focusing on whatever my top priority is.

Furthermore, when I am in my inbox, I end up going through my emails rapid fire and knocking them out quickly. Email has become less of a time suck and more of a quick means of communication – like it was intended to be all along) As of tonight, I literally have no emails from the last week in my personal email inbox, client email inbox, or firm email inbox. (Though I still have a backlog from previous weeks I need to keep working through…)

Overall, I think the no-procrastination mindset is starting to become habitual, and permeate into other areas as well. On Friday afternoon, I knocked out a ton of non-client tasks on my to-do list that I’ve been putting off for a while. Is it possible that forcing myself not to procrastinate in one area can change my mindset and encourage me not to procrastinate in other areas as well? There’s probably some research on this, but I think it’s really summed up by this quote:

When I start my day by summiting a mountain, it’s amazing everything else I can accomplish.

Mindsets are sticky and habitual – and it’s easy to get stuck. When I start the day with a workout (like summiting Mount Sanitas, above), it makes me feel like I’m both healthy and accomplished. I unwittingly try to keep that momentum going by making good food choices and by continuing to be productive. In contrast, when I sleep in and skip my morning workout, I feel like a loser, and I’m not as productive at work. Plus, those are always the days when I’m dying to eat everything in sight – even though I didn’t burn any calories! Go figure.

The way you do anything is the way you do everything, and I think it’s a lot easier to keep doing things the same way rather than changing back and forth based on the activity. (For a rebuttal to this quote, check out Carla’s excellent post here.) When I tell myself that I can’t delay responding to an email once I’ve read it, I’ve put myself into a mindset that I can’t delay doing anything once I’ve started it. There are certainly some occasions where switching tasks is beneficial, but most of the time, this is a dramatic improvement in my productivity.

One week is a very short time to see results, and yet, I feel like this one little change has made a big impact. Now let’s see if I can stick with it! Anyone want to join me in this challenge for the rest of the month?


4 thoughts on “September Goal Check In: Week 1”

  1. Hey, not everyone can start their day summiting a mountain, but I love the sentiment! Did a nice brisk walk around the university pond and set things in motion for a pretty productive day. Seems to be key to unlocking some healthy habits!

  2. My former yoga teacher said that a lot, it’s a good reminder! I think it’s true to an extent.

    There are times that I have to “lean out” in certain areas of my life. For example, when work and training are taking up a bigger chunk of my life than usual, I cut back on the social obligations and/or home-keeping. A while back, my husband had to have surgery and my close friend lost her partner very suddenly. I had to put work on the back-burner and just do the bare minimum in that realm, even though it isn’t my style. But in general, I agree with the statement. If I don’t feel passionate enough to give one thing the attention I would give everything, I cut it out of my life (or out-source it).

    1. It’s definitely all about balance and priorities. And I love your use of the “lean out” phrase! “Lean in” has become a cliche for what you’re always supposed to do, but I think in a lot of situations (like yours) it makes more sense to lean out sometimes and in other times, catching your breath in between the lean in phases.

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