Stop Email Overload

Stop Email Overload

Do you skim through emails without reading them fully? Feel like you can never can catch up on unread or flagged messages? You’re not alone.

I’d like to offer up a few ways to be more productive with your communication and provide some relief from your never-ending inbox.

I know what you’re thinking

Email is the lifeline of your business.

Your team depends on your ability to respond to them.

This is how your clients reach you.

Heck, you already have 18 unread emails and it’s not even 10.00 a.m!

Slow-down. Take a deep breath.

I’m not saying to stop email all together.

However, I do want to point out a few reasons why you should reconsider email as your primary mode of communication.

3 reasons to reconsider

#1 — People Are Overloaded. We are beyond the era of information overload. We need the jaws of life to set us free. Between flooded inboxes and fake news, it’s becoming hard to determine what’s important and what’s not.

#2 — TLDR; Too Long Didn’t Read. People don’t have time to read. They don’t even have time to go grocery shopping (#InstaCart). If you find yourself starting a sentence with “Lastly,….” I can assure you that email wasn’t read.

#3 — F-You email. I’m not mad at email. Just pointing out what science is telling us about the way we read. Our eyes follow text on the screen in the form of the letter F. We start by reading the top line, then scroll down and read halfway through, and swiftly scan to the end of the page like an anchor hitting the bottom of the ocean. All this in form of the letter F.

5 ways to better connect

I’m responsible for client relationships in my role at Skidmore Studio. I’ve learned that forming and fostering connections rarely comes just from email alone. Here are 5 additional suggestions on how you can better connect with the people you work with.

#1 — Pick Up the Phone — Try it. It’s amazing how often you’ll reach the person you need to get ahold of. In order to do this, you’ll need to break the habit of hiding behind the screen. Just remember this: CBE = Call Before Email!

#2 — Send a Text prior to 8.30 a.m — Before the chaos of the day gets going, try sending a text early in the morning. If you need a quick response, you may be able to catch the person during their cup of coffee or morning routine.

#3 — Use a Scheduling Tool — Asking someone for their time can be a game of chess. And finding time that works for both sides can be exhausting. Avoid these moments by using a scheduling tool like Calendly or Doodle to save precious time and energy.

#4 — Send Snail Mail. — Nothing beats getting a handwritten note from someone. There’s mutual gratitude and appreciation exchanged when writing or receiving a piece of mail. It takes time, but well worth the investment.

#5- Touch Their Hand — Okay, not literally. But sort of. Spend time face-to-face with your clients and team. This is how you get to know each other. This is how relationships are built.

Be bold. Break the cycle.

Sending email has become the new norm to our workforce. Step out of your inbox and into a moment of courage to break the cycle of email overload. Your clients and team will thank you.

About Mark

Mark has been compulsively checking his phone for over a decade. He finally mustered up the courage to do something about it. A man of many interests and a wellspring of energy, Mark is on a mission to teach people healthy digital habits. A sought after speaker on the Psychology of Technology, Mark teaches you how to defeat distractions so you can connect with purpose.

For more visit: http://markostach.com

Are You Devoted to Facebook?

Are You Devoted to Facebook?

According to the Webster Dictionary, devotion is defined as:

1) Passionate, often selfless affection and dedication, as to a person or principle.

2) An act of religious observance or prayer, especially while in private.

Personally, I view devotion as the intersection of my intention and energy utilization throughout the day. Where are my thoughts pointed? How do my feelings drive my actions? How does my TODO list impact my ability to be interruptible?

A little while back I was given great words of advice from my dear friend and therapist, Suzy. She shared a mental exercise to help me become more aware of how I devote my energy each day and today I’d like to share it with you.

The Energy Unit Metaphor

Imagine you have 100 units of energy to spend in any given day.

Let’s say you wake up late — (boom 15 units off your day).

You find yourself running behind, skipping breakfast, and feeding your mind with fear based thoughts rather than oatmeal and a green smoothie (minus 10 units).

You hop into your car and race off to work (minus 10 units). While stopped at a red light, you check your email (I know YOU wouldn’t do this) and discover a nasty email from your boss (minus 20 units).

As you continue your commute you find yourself at a standstill on the highway (minus 20 units).

You decided to check Facebook “real quick” and reveal that your ex-girlfriend is “now in a relationship” with you old best friend (minus 30 units).

Before you’ve even arrived to the office, your already out of energy units! What happens next, seems to be the new norm.

You become “so busy” as your scurry throughout the remainder of the day. This results in a lack of margin to allow for the unexpected things that always seem to pop up (i.e. your child is sick at school, your friend needs a favor, etc.). Being low on energy units can zap your ability to be useful when responding to these spontaneous pokes for your attention. Richard Swenson, author of Margin has this to say:

Being useful to God and other people is a large part of what life is meant to be. And yet “usefulness is nine-tenths availability”. When others need help, they don’t need it two days from now. “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.

Regardless of your religious affiliation, answer this question:

Are you interruptible?

How are you spending your interruptions?

I don’t know about you, but I’m most interrupted by the Internet, especially Facebook.

FACEBOOK TIME ALLOCATION

According to Neilson Research, the average Facebook user spends 8 hours a month (or 15 minutes a day) connected to Facebook. This number doubled from 2010. If the amount of time continues to grow, Facebook could consume 96 hours a month of one’s time and energy! Talk about devotion! This can really jeopardize your time alone and your ability to allocate time where you need to most.

“FACEBOOK IS LIKE A FRIDGE. YOU KNOW THERE’S NOTHING NEW INSIDE BUT YOU CHECK IT EVERY TEN MINUTES.”

Ignoring the extreme time projections above, let’s just look at the average user spending 15 mins a day. What else could you do with an extra 15 mins each day? Here are ten suggestions:

  1. Meditate — Check out Headspace
  2. Stretch
  3. Sit-ups
  4. Read a book
  5. Reflect in Scripture
  6. Make love
  7. Call an old friend
  8. Go on a walk
  9. Give your significant other a back rub
  10. Write in a journal

Let’s face it, these items yield more joy in life than a time spent allocated to Facebook.

WHAT ARE YOU DEVOTED TO?

Before you find yourself saying “I’m not devoted to Facebook”, ask yourself if you can relate to any of these other digital devotions:

  1. Video Game Benders
  2. Nextflix Marathons
  3. Taking the Perfect Selfie
  4. Chronic Pornography Use
  5. Compulsive Phone Checking
  6. Capturing every ‘moment’ through Instagram

The point is, our time is precious.

Where we devote our time often produces the sweetest fruits of our crop.

Bringing it back to the mental exercise on energy units, if you find yourself spending more units that you have, you’ll end up over drafting. This haphazard spending can put you in emotional, physical, and spiritual debt. Leaving you no time to devote toward rest and relaxation.

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Need A Break From Your Phone?

When was the last time you went to the bathroom without your phone?

Can’t remember?

Either can I.

I have a love-hate relationship with my phone. It loves me because I touch it and give it attention all the time. And I hate it because I touch it and give it attention all the time.

I’ve been advocating for healthy digital habits for over 5 years. During this time, I’ve watched my own habits go up and down like cell phone reception in Northern Michigan.

I’ve heard some fascinating (and funny) behaviors expressed from audience members during my talks. Let’s see which of the habits you can relate to most.

10 SIGNS YOU NEED A BREAK

#1 — You hide in the bathroom to check your phone. Not sure if this one is just for parents of young children, but I find myself extending my own potty breaks in hopes to escape the temper tantrum and poopy diaper that awaits me. If you don’t have kids, consider this — when was the last time you went to the bathroom without your phone?

#2 — You’re too tired to be intimate but can lay in bed for hours on Instagram. Thankfully, I can’t relate to this one, but I have heard this from multiple audience members. A woman in her mid 20’s stated, “I just want to be left alone so I can go to bed and enjoy Instagraming by myself.”

#3 — You get honked at every time the light turns green. Looking down at your phone during a red light isn’t texting and driving, right? Wrong. Even though it doesn’t seem as bad, there is a good chance that if you’re scrolling at a red light, you’re scrolling going 80 mph down the highway.

#4 — You have aches and pains in places you didn’t know could hurt. You wonder why your neck always hurts. You’re convinced you have a bum thumb. Your eyes burn and your migraine is back. Rx = Take 3 days off your device and call me in the morning. xoxo, Dr. Obvious.

#5 — You can’t put down your phone. Just-one-more-text.You started the day with your phone, you’ve brought it to the bathroom, you’ve driven it to work, you’ve placed it next to your fork at dinnertime. Heck you’ve even set it on your butt for the better part of the day. You’re fighting exhaustion yet your phone is always with you.

#6 — Your doctor has the same last name as a search engine. Who needs a doctor when you have google? Aside from the fact that you’ve misdiagnosed yourself with the measles, bird flu, and other fatal illnesses all within the last 6 months.

#7 — Your 30-minute workout isn’t ‘working out’ so well. You spent the first 15 minutes trying to find that perfect Pandora channel to pump-you-up. The remaining time was spent doing reps of texting, checking email, and the occasional phone call.

#8 — You realize group texts aren’t the same as hanging with friends. It’s 11:00 pm at night and you’re climbing into bed. One of your friends sends a group text to a dozen people. You try your hardest to ignore it and even think about using the Do Not Disturb feature. You opt to head to bed instead and enjoy a broken nights sleep with annoying notifications drifting in your dreams.

#9 — You wish you had more time for hobbies. If only there were more time in the day. Oh wait, what about the 160 times that you checked your phone today? Add that time up over the course of the week and you may find a couple extra hours to dabble in that craft you’ve been longing to take up.

#10 — You’ve written a song about your phone. Okay, this one may just be for me. But while I’m on the topic, take a minute and check out this love ballad I wrote for my phone titled, “Disconnect Me”. #SpokenWord