Along with a group of friends, I am doing a study on the book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown. The subtitle of the book is “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” I highly recommend it, especially if you, like me, are looking to restore your focus.
Last week, we got into a great discussion about boundaries based on the first four chapters of the book in the section entitled “Essence.” We were talking about what’s really important to us and how to distill down the essence of whatever is placing demands on our time.
Then our discussion leader asked us to write down five things that were important to us right now.
Go ahead. Do it. I’ll wait.
The next step, she said, was to cross off three of those things.
I know right?! Nearly impossible.
The author of Essentialism makes the point that if everything seems really important, then nothing really is. You spread yourself too thinly, and ultimately don’t make the impact you desire.
We also got into a great discussion about setting boundaries (Boundaries make it possible for us to focus on those most important items.) Did you know that by sending late night or early morning emails, that you are causing damage to your team?
At least that’s what the smarties at Harvard Business Journal think:
Do you intend for your staff to reply to you immediately? Or are you just sending the email because you’re thinking about it at the moment, and want to get it done before you forget? If it’s the former, you’re intentionally chaining your employees to the office 24/7. If it’s the latter, you’re unintentionally chaining your employees to the office 24/7. And this isn’t good for you, your employees, or your company culture. Being connected in off-hours during busy times is the sign of a high-performer. Never disconnecting is a sign of a workaholic. And there is a difference.
And by the way, it’s not when you write the email, it’s when you send it. We all have nights when we can sleep, or wake up with a great solution that needs to be captured in email. Maybe you are a parent of young kids and the only time to catch up is after they are asleep. Or maybe you are a ridiculously early riser (uhem, Dad), and love to be productive before the rooster crows. That’s okay. A really smart friend of mine who manages a large multi-office team saves her off-hours emails to her draft file and then sends them when she arrives at the office.
Studies show your employees will be happier and therefore more productive with some downtime. Don’t let your email habits get in the way.
Focus and boundaries. Make those your words of the week and see what happens. We’d love to hear!