Productivity Habit #1 – Work Offline

Today I’m going to kick off a series of non-insurance-related videos and focus on some of the habits, tools, hacks, and ideas I have on productivity, organization, and plain old getting stuff done.

This idea came to me after a friend asked me something like: “How do you keep up with all your digital projects, sell insurance, and get stuff done?”

At first, I didn’t think I was particularly good at organizational and productivity things, but the more I thought about it, maybe I was selling myself short, and sharing some of my ideas could help others.

Look, being productive and getting the most out of every day isn’t rocket science. It really isn’t.

But what I’ve really realized is that I am a person driven by habits, and I think that’s true of most people.

Consciously or not, our daily actions occur because of the habits we have acquired over our lives.

Whether that’s simple habits like brushing our teeth before bed or spending time meditating, or exercising each day.

Habits give us a comforting feeling that all is right with the world.

But there are also some habits that can be less than helpful and something I want to share today is my habit of keeping Outlook open on my desktop all day long and allowing my email to control my workflow, my productivity, and my happiness.

I often find it difficult to turn off email and what happens to me, is probably what happens to you. Inbound emails run your day.

You get off track because someone else’s urgency becomes your most urgent task of the day.

And this can happen dozens of times a day!

Don’t get me wrong, when a client or customer has an urgent issue that needs to be resolved, that’s important.

For knowledge workers that’s why we’re in business, for the most part, so taking care of that client’s need is important.

Unfortunately, it’s typically not a client emergency that runs our day off the rails.

It’s usually some other nonsense that isn’t even on our “to-do” list for the day.

It’s urgent for the other person, but it’s neither important nor urgent for us – still, we feel the need to engage on it, stop what we were doing, lose focus, fix whatever that disruption email is triggering us to fix, and then try and get back on task.

I use the word TRY and get back on task because this is where I often fail.

That big hairy task I was working on is probably difficult, urgent, and important…. so maybe I’ll do something that’s easier and maybe not as important.

I mean, after all, I just took care of this email that interrupted me from the big important work I was doing, so I need a little time to take my foot off the gas and recuperate.

So, what’s the solution?

For me, it’s been the habit of working offline in Outlook.

That means going to Outlook, clicking the send/receive tab, and clicking the button Work Offline.

This gives me access to my calendar and everything in my inbox as well as the ability to compose emails, but it stops emails from coming in during focus time.

I try and do this for a few hours in the morning and again in the afternoon so I have more uninterrupted focus time.

Now to make this more productive there are a lot of other things that need to be going right – like having the right task list, daily and weekly planning, and a lot more which I hope to cover in future videos.

The habit of working offline is incredible for my focus.

And let’s face it, we live in a very disruptive world – desk phones, cell phones, text messages, social media alerts, news alerts, emails, and more all combined are the deadly forces trying to ruin your productivity, so we need strategies and habits to control them.

That’s it for today.


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