Your Email Alert Is The Devil

Are you stressed, on overload, working late and thinking this is not what you bargained for?

Your email is killing you – or at least the joy in your job.

Let’s talk about the email alert first.   I’m talking about that little pop up in the corner that tells you there’s a new message.

It should have horns and a pronged fork.

We get the highest job satisfaction when we are in the “state of flow”. Research says that flow is characterized by complete absorption in what you are doing.

When you are in flow you are fully focused.  Time flies because you are totally into what you are working on.

Having your eyes flit to that pop-up every few minutes (or seconds!), then think about that new email, how it involves you and if it can wait, is killing your work mojo.

How can you possibly expect to think of something new, write something great or come up with a brilliant solution when your attention is shattered every two minutes?

That goes for the email alerts on your phone too.  I had a great coaching session with a woman who came up with a plan and was totally galvanized to move forward.  Before she left she glanced at her phone and uttered a panicked “Oh my word!”

I thought something dire had happened, but she flashed her phone at me and said, “All these emails are from the people I’ve tagged as important, I have to go.”

Now think about it.  What was she going to get done in the journey from our meeting room to her desk?

It would have been a much better use of her brainpower to spend a few more minutes inspired by her plan and energized by her future.  That’s what will make a difference in her career – no answering an email one and a half minutes faster.

The reality is – if it is truly urgent, someone will call you.  There is very little sitting in your inbox that is so urgent it can’t wait an hour.

You are 4 easy steps from deleting this devilish distraction in Outlook:
Click the File tab.
Click Options.
Click Mail.
Under Message arrival, clear the “Display a Desktop Alert” check box.

SO, what is with all that email?
You are getting far more of it than you really need.  I know that because everyone does.

Evaluate all the “group emails” you receive, do you really need that information – could you look it up if you did? Most of us get put on a group email because the author doesn’t want to leave anyone out.

Honestly the author doesn’t want or need everyone’s opinion, but they’ve been burned by not including all warm and breathing bodies involved in this task. So they put you on their list.  They will NOT be offended if you say you trust them and ask to come off.

What else don’t you need?

Are you the big club?
Are you getting cc’d on everything because you are the boss? It’s time to rethink that too.

If your staff are cc’ing you because they think it adds weight to their request, talk to them about building their own voice, power and relationships.  Wielding you, in the carbon copy line, is not going to help them develop in their career.

If they are cc’ing you because you like to keep an eye on things – and that means everything – that’s not a great message to your staff either.

Help them feel empowered to make decisions, manage relationships and move things forward on their own.  Be selective about what you want to be copied on, then it will have a value.

It’s easier to come off the emails if you are clear about the authority you are offering your staff.  If they have the authority to move forward, encourage them to take that autonomy.  It will make their work more interesting and they will take more responsibility for it.

Copying in your boss
Are you cc’ing your boss on everything?  You may think it covers your posterior and gains you points.  It doesn’t.  A senior manager told me recently she felt her staff cc’d her to score points against each other and she resented them for it.  She made a point of asking them to talk to each other and manage it between them, she would see that as a sign of their ability.

Shine some light on it
Yes, I know you have to go, you have 200 emails waiting in your inbox.  You may have thought, at some point in the past, that this made you important – I hope now you know it’s a sign you need to seriously edit what you are receiving.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have just a handful of emails, all of which were interesting and needed your wisdom?

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