When you sit at your computer, if the first screen you pop open is your email inbox, it’s probably your goto workspace throughout your day. The inbox is a great place to be responsive to business needs and customers, but it’s overrun with distractions, that help you feel busy, kill time, get distracted and lose productivity. It’s probably time to shift your workspace habit to something better.

Assess Your Inbox

Take a look at your inbox. How many of the emails on any given day are directly related to the priorities set for that day or week?

The truth is, 90% or more of your inbound email is not on point with your priorities and projects.  Aside from the obvious and overwhelming spam, there may be relevant work bits sprinkled throughout inbox, but if they’re not aligned with your prioritized work schedule, they area timely distraction.

Using email as your primary workspace is like using a candy store as a fitness center – it’s not really the best place for that.

Do you feel compelled to zero out your inbox? To have 0 unread messages, every day, or every hour? It might be time to seek help with this compulsive behavior.

If you’re addicted to zeroing out your inbox, you’ve committed yourself to perpetually scanning a lot of irrelevant information and spam at any given time.

But I use filters and rules…

Be honest. Your filters and rules aren’t all that strong or good at keeping you focused on priorities. And you probably have to admit enjoying the distracting emails you’re subscribed to, at least occasionally. But by scanning each email, you’re spending your limited energy and willpower to say no to all those other enticing offers.

By the time you get to relevant emails, you may not notice that your ability to resist taking the easy route as greatly diminished. You spend your precious willpower as you read the subject lines and resist the urge to open messages. After a while, your productivity and quality of work product suffer as a result of this loss of focus and diminished discipline.

Your Inbox 0 goal is killing your stamina for focused work.

Ask yourself, where are you pouring your TEA; Your Time, Energy and Attention?

Unless you’re a customer service rep and getting paid to stare at the inbox, you should start with a better workspace. The productivity challenge I most often ask clients, is “Where are you pouring your TEA; Your Time, Energy and Attention?” Wherever you’re pouring it is determining the results of your work for you and your team.

But it works for me…

A few of you are probably making this claim. Well, if what you’re doing is working for you, and you’re not worried about your productivity or free-time then, by all means, keep on living in your inbox. But if you’re like most people, you’re probably constantly on the prowl for better ways to work and manage your time. More often than not, you’re staring at the answer – by admitting the problem.

The Hard Truth more owners and managers need to face is this:

Compared to other current alternatives, Regardless of the size of the company, inbox addicts struggle to effectively manage their time, team, and projects. Their ability to make time for strategic thinking, strategic planning, and to set and achieve goals effectively, are all greatly diminished (and are probably nonexistent).  The compulsion to scan and address everything as it comes in changes the habits and thinking patterns that affect productivity.

  • They train themselves to think more reactively and less proactively.
  • They manage problems and fires as they arise and because they scan everything they have very little to no time to plan anything. As a result, they are often poor managers of their own time and their team.
  • They are often horrible at project management, strategic thinking, and strategic planning; all because of a compulsive addiction to the “feeling” of being busy and moving fast, rather than more efficiently and effectively.

Your team deserves focused workspaces and your focused attention. Take back your productivity and commit to giving up the habit. Check out this post on 5 Digital Workspaces That Outperform Your Inbox.

If you’re ready to start improving your company’s productivity from thought to profit, schedule a cup of clarity consult and let’s talk about your business challenges.

I hope you find this content helpful and I welcome your comments.