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Handling Urgency at Work Without Email

Handling Urgency at Work Without Email
    Catch the moment by sunnyUK on flickr

    Just the other day, a co-worker was called out by another co-worker that they “weren’t answering their email quickly enough.” This comment was made even when our company employs a host of ways to contact each other immediately.

    The issue that was being discussed was urgent and had to be handled that day, but the accusing party in no way handled the work as being urgent. For some reason they expected an immediate response via email, even though email is not an “immediate response” type of tool. And frankly, it should never be considered to be one especially with the types of technology we have at our disposal.

    Email as mail

    The way that I and many others treat email is as a piece of mail. We don’t sit in front of our mailbox all day, waiting for something to be put into it, only to take it out, create a reply, put it in an envelope, stamp, and send it off. That would be ridiculous, right? So, why should we be expected to deal with email this way?

    The problem is that most people treat email this way.

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    It wasn’t until I was introduced to the GTD ecosystem that I found thoughts on email like that of Merlin Mann or even Leo Babauta. These guys saw email as mail, something that piles up throughout our day and then we process it. We then make decisions on what we are supposed to do next with this incoming mail; respond to it, make it a piece of reference material, trash it, etc. Once I was able to understand this way of thinking, email wasn’t an immediate response type of tool anymore. This kept me out of my inbox and allowed me to get more done as well as handle urgent issues the right way.

    What about immediate issues?

    I hear this a lot where I work:

    “It’s my job to respond to email.”

    What a sad state of affairs; a professional email responder. Actually, I would say that most anyone that says that truly means that their job is to handle immediate issues in their business; it just so happens that many people still treat email as an immediate response type of communication.

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    I know that we productivity nerds can’t move the immovable force of overuse of email, but we can bring some options to the table that those afflicted with immediate email action can try to employ.

    The ways to handle urgency without email

    Here are a few ways that you can help yourself and possibly others in your company deal with urgent matters without the use of a sea of email. These may seem dead obvious, but you will be extremely surprised at how little they are used for urgent issues:

    1. Use IM

    No matter what anyone says, IM isn’t just a way to chat with your friends at work (although that can be an added benefit). IM stands for instant messaging and that is exactly what it should be used for; getting a hold of someone instantly.

    If you company doesn’t use IM, especially in a company where issues with customers are of utmost important, you may want to try to talk your higher-ups and put it in place. IM at work has saved a ton of time and many email messages being overlooked.

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    2. Use the phone

    A telephone? What the hell is that? It’s that thing that is dusty, sits on the corner of your desk, and is used maybe once a day. The fact is that the phone is the best tool for getting things done quickly across far reaches.

    Yes, maybe you can type 160 words per minute, but you can’t explain problems over IM or email like you can verbally. If something is super important and needs done ASAP, the phone and the next medium are the best tools to use.

    3. Come see me

    If you are across the office and you need something done now then go and see the person that needs to get that something done. You may want to call or IM them first to make sure that they are available, but if the issue is urgent enough, then it’s totally fine to just go and see them. Once again, speaking to someone verbally is the best way to handle urgent situations.

    What’s next?

    One of the hardest things you have to do to get out of the “living in your email inbox mentality”, especially for large corporations, is try to change your coworkers’ view on how to handle urgent issues. The best way to start is to tell them that you only check email a certain number of times a day (just like Mr. Vardy with his 3 times a day rule) and if they need something immediate, then either they can IM you, call, or stop over.

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    You may run into an issue that really isn’t urgent and your coworker thinks it is, but usually if you lay out some groundwork that email isn’t the best way to get something done quickly, they will respect your avenue for getting urgent things done.

    If you work with a bunch of humans, how do you guys handle urgent matters?

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on June 2, 2020

    9 Ways to Reach Your Full Potential Every Day

    9 Ways to Reach Your Full Potential Every Day

    Why does it seem like time goes by so quickly? We start a week and before we know it, it’s already the weekend. How can you make the best out of each and every day?

    I want you to be able to reach your fullest potential every single day. Even during the days where you relax and recharge, I want you to enjoy every moment.

    When it comes to reaching your full potential every day, it’s all about planning. If you’re not a good planner, you’ll have to start learning! Those who are good with time management and are organized usually experience a more productive day.

    So, how to reach your full potential? Here’re 9 ways you can start trying.

    1.  Focus on the Big Picture

    “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi

    We live in a society filled with so many distractions, so we can easily get caught up with the stress and frustrations of life. Focus on the big picture. With so many distractions, it’s so important for you to focus on what you want.

    What does the big picture look like to you? What are the goals that you want to accomplish? When it comes to reaching your potential every day, it’s important that you know what the big picture looks like.

    Why do you do what you do? What is the reason that you go to work or come home and provide dinner for your family? When you have purpose and reason in your life, you’re more able to live out each day to your fullest potential.

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    If you are able to see the big picture in your life, you don’t have to just live day-to-day. When you know your purpose, you will be motivated to live each day to your fullest potential: How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person

    2. Plan!

    Planning how you want to spend each day is key to reaching your fullest potential each day. Without any planning, you will just get pushed around and have no direction in life. Reaching your potential every day is about planning your day in alignment with what matters to you.

    Focus on what is important in your life. Maybe it’s providing for your family or spending quality time with your spouse. When you are able to live in alignment with that matters to you, you will be able to reach your fullest potential every day.

    Plan your week every Sunday evening. That way, you’ll be able to see your week’s schedule before starting your week (6 steps to plan your week). Make sure to add when you plan to start working and end working into your schedule.

    It will be important for you to know when it’s time to turn off work-mode and start spending quality time with your family. It’s also important that when you plan your week, you are realistic with what you want to accomplish.

    Set yourself up for success, not for failure. Create a to-do list for each day of the week on Sunday evening. Have about 4-5 tasks that you want to accomplish each day. If you have a big project, you should only include 2-3 tasks for that day.

    An action that has helped me reach my potential each day is to check off each task once I complete it. It feels good knowing that at the end of the day, I was able to complete my To-do list. Remember, set yourself up for success! Make sure you reward yourself after a long day of being productive.

    3. Time Management

    Planning and having good time management is a combination that leads to reaching your fullest potential every day. When you’re able to plan out your day and how you want to spend your time, you not only get more done but you also have extra time to spend on what you enjoy.

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    Having good time management is important for you to learn because when you value yourself, you will value how you spend your time. Try these 7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity.

    4. Positive Attitude

    When it comes to reaching your fullest potential every day, it’s important to have a positive attitude. When you have a negative attitude, you start viewing yourself and your life as being negative. How can you possibly reach your fullest potential when you have a negative attitude about yourself?

    It’s all about your perspective and how you view yourself and your life. In order to have a productive day, you must have a positive attitude. With a positive attitude, you’ll be able to stay focused on what you want to accomplish every day.

    Here’re 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude.

    5. Stay Focused on the Task at Han

    Staying focused takes discipline and commitment. With so many distractions, it’s easy to get off track and not get anything done. That’s why staying focused on what you need to get done is key in reaching your fullest potential.

    If you get distracted by your phone, make sure you put it on silent when you’re trying to finish a task. Not only will you be more disciplined, but you’ll also get a lot more done! Anything that distracts you from completing a task needs to be put away.

    Learn How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide).

    6. Have Goals

    If you want to reach your fullest potential each and every day, you need to have short and long term goals.

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    Take a piece of paper and write down what you want to accomplish now and in the future. This goes back to planning. Have your goals and have deadlines.

    Then plan each and every day taking the necessary steps to accomplish your goals. It’s all about setting goals and then following through.

    Find out How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully.

    7. Embrace Simplicity

    When you want to reach your fullest potential, simplify what needs to get done before the day starts.

    One routine that has helped me save time is picking out my outfit the night before. This way, I don’t feel rushed in the morning.

    Simplify your morning routine. If you can find different ways to save time and make your life simpler, you’ll be able to focus on reaching your fullest potential every day. When you are constantly all over the place and your life is far from being simple, you’ll experience stress and frustration on a daily basis. Simplify your life!

    8. Recharge

    You can only reach your fullest potential if you take the time to recharge. When you are constantly working without any rest, you will eventually burn out.

    Taking the time to rest and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul will allow you to become re-energized for the next day. Use different strategies that help you relax. Try meditating or yoga.

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    It is not only important for you to recharge your mind– your body needs time to recharge too. Reaching your fullest potential every day can become stressful if you don’t manage your time well and take the time to recharge.

    Take a moment and think about what recharges you. Maybe it’s spending some quality time with your spouse or taking a nice walk in the park. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you enjoy the process. It’s easy for our minds to wonder, so when you’re recharging, focus on recharging!

    9. Enjoy Each Moment

    “To get all there is out of living, we must employ our time wisely, never being in too much of a hurry to stop and sip life, but never losing our sense of the enormous value of a minute.” –Robert Updefraff

    With so much going on, it’s easy to just go, go, go and not take the time to smell the flowers. Enjoy the moments that you experience throughout each day. This will help you feel grateful and appreciative with what you have in your life. Enjoy the simple things like having a roof over your head and being able to afford food for your family.

    Although being productive is important, taking the time to enjoy each moment is important too. This article can help you: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying

    Featured photo credit: Melody Jacob via unsplash.com

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