Having email and social media to connect us better than ever before brings incredible opportunities — access to international experts, easier collaboration, and the ability to work remotely. The downside is these digital distractions fritter away your time while you’re not looking, unless you take proactive steps to maintain your focus while harnessing their benefits.
The director of the Creative Coaching company, Karen Barr, acknowledges that using social media can be a great boon to your career. “The benefits of using sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs are staying up to date with the big issues in your market or industry, communicating your brand to more people and building your networks and connections,” she explains. To get more of these benefits with fewer distractions, you need some simple strategies.
- Choose set access times. You know it’s way too easy to check Facebook by reflex, so set your own limit. Perhaps you log in only on the train ride home, or only for 5 minutes at a time.
- Uninstall apps. Remove the temptation to have a quick dip into Twitter that sees you go down the rabbit hole by removing social media apps. You can still access the sites from your browser when you really want to.
- Put quality in, get quality out. When posting on Twitter or LinkedIn to raise your visibility and make new connections, create high value connections with a thoughtful post rather than hurrying to just get something out there. Barr warns that rushed messages can have an negative impact on how you’re perceived. “It is critical that you are clear on your objective for posting and that the information will add value to your business, your customers or to your brand,” Barr says.
- Do regular audits. The more people you follow and like, the more “noise” in your feed and the harder it is to see the true gems. Be ruthless in choosing quality over quantity. You won’t miss the ones you remove.
Barr describes email as one of the biggest time wasters in organisations and a challenge for the time-poor (so that’s all of us). Be the master of your email instead of letting it dictate your day with these tips:
- Turn email off. Start your day with the priorities on your to-do list, not the email at the top of your inbox. Actually close your inbox or at least turn off new email notifications so you can focus on the tasks that matter most.
- Make yours a calm inbox. “Do not to create an expectation that you will respond to emails immediately” says Barr. “Where you have other priorities and need time, communicate this fact so as not to disappoint.” The Calmbox method, for example, suggests you check your email only in the morning and evening, and even provides a sample email signature to give others the heads up.
- Deploy the four Ds. During your designated “email time”, immediately process them one by one using the Four Ds – Do it now, Delete it, Delegate it or Decide when to do it. “Don’t let the inbox fill up as it will become an additional weight on your shoulders which is not necessary,” Barr says.
- Reduce the inflow. Here’s hoping you don’t receive the 400 daily emailsthat Virgin chief executive John Borghetti does, but the fewer the better.
Unsubscribe from promotional emails and newsletters you know you don’t read. Set an example by being reluctant to copy others in or reply to all, and encourage them to do the same.
- Know when you should choose the phone. Emails rob you of the opportunity to communicate using your tone of voice or body language. And, it’s hard to build relationships and deliver sensitive messages from your inbox. Conversations where there’s likely to be several messages back and forth are also more efficient on the phone or in person.
What’s your trick for minimising digital distraction? Share it in the comments below.