The reason we check our email at night isn’t necessarily because we think there is something that needs our immediate attention. We check emails because we may already be behind on our workload and the notion that “this email can wait until tomorrow” is not the fear. “I’ve got so much on my plate, I don’t think I’ll be able to get to this in a timely manner” is.
It’s why I work nights sometimes.
I can say no to my email easily when I’m on top of things. I know responding within 24 hours is my goal and getting an email at 11 pm at night and responding the next day is fine, better than fine even.
It’s when I know the workload I have will keep me booked solid for the full next day. Knowing what’s to come, and even responding to emails right away, “helps” me take care of “emergencies.”
Solution? Get unbusy.
1. Take less clients if you need to. Hire or contract out for tasks.
2. Spend your office hours wisely. I have found, that if I’m committed to not working after hours, I work harder during my office hours.
3. Breakdown your time. Recently, I’ve had to get real with my days. I made a list of all the tasks I needed to get done the following day. I set times that I thought it should take. It made up my full work day exactly. When I began crossing off tasks, some took less time (woohoo!!) and some took more (boo!). The items that took less time, I didn’t dilly dally on. And it helped me realize how much time I had been wasting on projects that could have been done quicker. The items that took more time, I realized how unrealistic my time table was. It helped me to adjust my expectations of what I could accomplish in a day. It also made me realize, I don’t have time to Facebook, twitter, etc all day long. See more about my daily process here.
Ironically, I had one of these nights last night where I kind of just panicked thinking of my t0-do list today. It was packed and something unexpected came up that is threatening to derail my day! I’m working on these three action steps myself today.
Always a work in progress! ; )