If “squirrels” invade your inbox, they also invade your life. This is how I manage my email to save at least 1-2 hours each and every day, and avoid squirrel-chasing:
(1) Prevent extra emails from invading in the first place.
Do you really need to be on every single email list for the emails that enter your inbox? If you take 10 minutes a week to unsubscribe from unproductive or marginally productive lists, you will get hours of time back. Really, you won’t miss anything important–you info-junkie.
(2) Use “rules” in your email program to sort into “buckets” for later reading
I use Mac Mail and set up “rules” It is easy to go to the preferences page and set up any rule you want. One that has saved me hours is to automatically filter mass emails into my “read second” folder–which I then, well…. read second. I set time aside every few days to read these mass emails–and I do my best to invoke other rules or unsubscribe from the lists that are not worth my time.
(3) Establish an Email ritual to deal with the ones that get to you
I read emails in priority order–most important “buckets” first and I set a time limit. I never read emails in the morning (my creative time). When I read emails, I decide to respond immediately (keeping it short), to schedule for later action and perhaps a longer more thoughtful response, or I file for later reference or reading.
(4) Be realistic
Realize that you will likely NEVER touch something twice. I learned this lesson when I realize how often I actually read my archived emails… which is pretty much never. I still archive them, though, just in case.
(5) Email inbox services
Some people like these services like sanebox or boomerang. I don’t personally use them because I find the above actions sufficient.
What if you could immediately reduce overwhelm and easily and firmly say no to distractions?
What if you could make a single shift to your thinking that would enable you to not only recognize the difference between a distraction and necessary action but turn “squirrel” energy into a real opportunity?
What if virtually everyone who is successful in this dynamic environment has consciously or unconsciously adopted this approach?
What I discovered turned my business around. This one concept changed everything and set up the conditions so that I could thrive and grow. And an improvement in my sense of well-being was almost immediate—with better business results following within the first couple of weeks!
Chances are that you have not yet discovered this shift you need to thrive in this living system of commerce because no one is talking about it. And why would they? Most marketing today creates a fear-based squirrel chasing energy that manipulates you into buying. Intentions may be good—in fact the products are often good too—it’s just that without the right foundational thinking, the right understanding about where you are in your business, these programs are nothing but squirrels.
And the solution is very simple. (but not necessarily easy to implement) and it is this:
Clearly identify your next best step and spend at least 80%+ of your energies on it until it is accomplished. Say NO to anything and everything that doesn’t accomplish that next step.
Easier said than done, I know. In future posts, I will share with you root practices that work to clarify each and every decision you need to make, large or small so that you can know your next best step and focus on it until it is accomplished, setting aside other distractions, and keeping chaos and squirrels at bay.
The art is really first getting to the heart of knowing your best next step and WHY it is your next best step. The distracting marketing of the outside world is doing its best to define that best next step for you. You cannot let that happen. This is something you must do for yourself.
You must collect your tools and strategies to define that step for yourself—so you can make good decisions about what is next. The better you are at this, the better your decisions will be, the more clarity and joy (and yes, abundance) is possible.
As a culture, we are in a state of extreme “Attention Deficit”. Many who are trying to market their businesses are suffering from overwhelm: thoroughly distracted, befuddled and off purpose. I see this situation as tragic, not only because of the toll it takes on the entrepreneur, but also the effect on those around them and how it undermines their true mission in the world. Distractions and diversions waste time and energy. If allowed to continue, the results are truly tragic: a life unlived, mission thwarted and a planet that is less served. As individuals, we can correct this condition with a change in perspective and a few simple practices.
Many training programs teach us how to manage distractions, or even how to select the right projects but very few address the root cause of overwhelm and distraction. Summed up simply: the problem of overwhelm is more often than not that we are working on the wrong things! In other words, tactics without STRATEGY is a fast path to disaster.
How do we select the right things to work on? How can we tell the difference between a project that is an unproductive distraction and one that will further our goals? Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference until it is too late. For example, a program that teaches us how to market using video might be exactly the right thing for one entrepreneur to learn and can end up wasting a whole season without result for another.
In order to make these important choices, we need to look below the surface. We need to see problems as opportunities to reassess.
More often that not, when overwhelm first presents itself, most people react to it by working harder… by setting aside the things in life that give us well-being and joy. The underlying belief in this choice is that by working harder, we will navigate our way through the list of tasks and the joy we seek will be on the other side. Even when presented with evidence to the contrary, we make this choice to work harder.
We come by this behavior honestly. We have been taught that hard work is valuable. We have been taught that dessert comes after dinner, that reward follows hard work–to save the best until last.
What if overwhelm were a choice?
Practice setting aside the time to be.
See your number one mission as this: reducing pressure and noise so you can evoke your best work –and more importantly, the right work.