Happy Monday! This week, let’s take a look at something I struggle with regularly, responsiveness.  How responsive should you be to clients, vendors, co-workers or your Mom? How often do you check email and how quickly do you respond? I admit, I check my email all the time. I don’t want to miss a thing.  But I need to quit it because it’s killing my productivity.

In an effort to be seen as helpful and good at my job I sometimes jump to respond before I reflect on how this work fits into my overall day, week and set of priorities. It also sets a precedent that will mostly likely have to be broken in the future. If your clients or co-workers get used to you getting back to them right away, they’ll start to depend on that. And eventually, you won’t be there to respond right away. If instead you set a rule for yourself of getting back to people within four, eight hours or 24 hours, you can set yourself free and set the right expectations of your responsiveness.

Here are four ways to break the responsive habit:

  1. At the start of your day imagine what success looks like for your day and what you’d like to accomplish. This HBR article by Ron Friedman explains How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day. This keeps the day rolling based on your priorities not reacting to others’ priorities.
  2. Check and respond to email only twice per day. This is what all the experts recommend. I admit, it’s really hard for me but I’m vowing to give it a shot this week.
  3. Turn off those pesky little notifiers that make an email pop up in the corner of your screen when it comes in. The sole purpose of those notifiers is to push you off track. Don’t let them!
  4. Put your Instant Messenger, Skype or Lync on Do Not Disturb when you’re working on something important. Similar to closing the door to get some quiet time to work, DND will keep you from  productivity-killing interruptions.

Have a great week. Let me know how it goes!

About Monday Matters: Monday morning is a great time to think about some big picture strategy. You’re hopefully rested from the weekend and ready to come out swinging. Don’t waste this glorious freshness on your in-box. Before you get into your tactical to-do list for the week, take this moment to pause and think about strategy. I will post a thought to get you started most Mondays.

Photo credit: Paz.ca via Flckr Commons