The power of the “inbox” should never be taken for granted. The deluge of emails we receive every day from bosses, peers, team members, customers, vendors, and not discounting a host of others from websites we subscribe (and spam!) influence our line of thoughts, even derailing our focus plans. This is inescapable in the work world where the day starts off quite normally with most of us catching up on our emails.
My advice, don’t start your day with your emails, if you do then you will certainly get In-boxed and your day ‘knocked’ over!
Having checked my calendar on the way to office; I looked forward to complete these:
1. Call customer A, B & C for feedback and new business exploration;
2. Have a chat with my manager who had completed 5 years with us on his career aspirations
for the next 5 years;
3. Have a mentoring session with one of my team member;
4. Spend time with the T & D Head on development and up-skilling plans for my team;
5. Qualify and announce the list of top achievers for the previous quarter;
6. Review last month’s performance with the Sales Head.
When I reached the office and since I’m NOT in the habit of checking emails before reaching the office, there were a landslide of emails in my inbox which I felt “forced” to straightway dive into:
1. My boss wanted a new report to be sent as he had an urgent deadline with his boss. Sounds
2. There was an escalation from one of our key customers;
3. The monthly P&L was in and did not look pretty:
4. Two of my direct reports were having an argument over some resource allocation and since I
was kept in the loop it only meant that I was “needed” in the equation;
5. My super boss had written an email highlighting the need for a company-wide expense
control over the next few months;
6. HR had announced the list of people who received promotions with a couple of my team members
missing from that list which required my intervention.
So, what do you think I did? You’re right! I failed to start on (let alone complete) the tasks which I had initially planned to tackle at the start of the day. With the exception of the customer complaint which was attended to, I spent the remaining of the day working on the “inbox-ed” list as they “appeared” to be urgent; failing which I won’t be able to shrug the invisible monkey off my back!
Against my own will, I’m guilty of holding on to the belief that if I hope to be “productive” at work; at “peace” with my “creditability” as the “boss” and have an all-around sense of ‘responsiveness’, I simply must confront what’s in my inbox despite knowing that these are the attitude and actions I should avoid if I want to exert “big picture” rational over day-to-day operation trials and tribulations. Ironically and most times unintentional, I have been guilty of upsetting the planned schedule of my subordinates and hurried them to do things which were not part of their ‘to do’ list for the day too. And very much like me, I’m sure they went home on those days with the same sense of incompleteness!
Does your inbox rule your day too? Now don’t tell me you are too organized for that!