Boost your productivity with this one small change.


Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed. – Ecc 10:10

I am a big believer in productivity. I want to leverage as much as I can in order to get the best results possible.  I want to work with great wisdom. However, with a thousand things coming each day, sometimes it seems impossible to be productuive.

This week, I am experiementing with what could be the most productive thing I have done. This one act has already saved me tons of time this week. I bet it could save you time as well. I have been aware of this concept for some time, but have fought against doing it. This week I put it into practice and I am liking the results. This one simple act could give you more time during the day. It’s a simple practice:

Check your email twice a day.

The latest studies suggest that multi-tasking is less productive than bursts of focused energy. When we check email multiple times a day, we are bouncing around, allowing the email content to dictate our schedule, and wasting times between tasks. I have found that when I batch (and attack) my emails twice per day I can (1) get through them in a timely manner and (2) be more focused on the task at hand.

I have been surprised at how difficult this is to do. Ever few minutes a zap in my brain says “Check your email.” I’m still working through this process, but so far so good. It has allowed my mind to focus entirely on what I am working on at the moment. When I am Life Journaling, studying, or preparing for a sermon, I can put the thoughts of email out of my mind. I know that I have a space in my day where I will check email. I will get to it. Right now I need to focus on the task at hand.

Checking email twice a day is one wise thing I am doing in order to sharpen the axe. What are some things you are doing to work smarter?

picture by jjay69

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3 thoughts on “Boost your productivity with this one small change.

  1. Good plan: Prioritize what’s important. Don’t submit to the “tyranny of the urgent”.  Benefits include less anxiety about responding immediately (thus more energy), less need to re-focus on the task (it’s amazing how much time that takes), and better concentration (which produces better work with more depth). I just learned that the words “interrupt” and “distract”come from old Latin for “to break apart” and “to pull in different directions” so interruptions and distractions actually prevent me from giving myself WHOLEheartedly to the job.

    I’ve tried that plan (actually, three times a day: first thing in the morning, right after lunch, and near the end of the day) and it works great when I can do it. But it seems some people (at work) expect me to respond as soon as they send me a message. They e-mail me, then immediately walk over to my
    desk, or phone if they are in another dept, to ask if I got it and what my answer is. Makes me think of children who demand what they want “right now” even though the adult has other priorities.

    Recipients read their e-mail at their own convenience (who knows when that could be?), so I don’t use e-mail for anything that needs immediate attention. Of course, if we all followed the 2-or-3-times-a-day routine, I would know when I can probably look for a response,… and so would they.
    John G