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How to Take Control

February 27th, 2015

We live in a world of technology. There are numerous ways to reach out to friends, family and co-workers, and most of us use more than one method. Many times I send a quick text before I’m in the office, and once in the office follow up with an email or in-person conversation. The point is that technology can help us communicate, quickly and efficiently. But too often, technology causes us to miss out, or begins to control our lives.

There are only a limited number of hours in any day, and you don’t want to spend them all responding to someone else’s issues. You are letting others dictate how you spend your time. There is a difference between being reactive and proactive.

We are constantly distracted by emails, text messages, phone calls, the internet, Facebook, etc. In fact, there has never been a time when mankind could be so distracted.

How many times have you been with family and friends only to notice that EVERYONE is on their phone, responding to messages from someone who is not there with you? So the conversation you think you are having is only partially being attended by the people who are actually physically present. In fact, you also are most likely on your phone, multitasking.

So, how do you become controlling? How do you control your time? First, second, and last, PRIORITIZE! Learn how to utilize technology and not have technology control you. The most productive people set aside time for themselves. Decide what you need to do on any given day and do that first. This is the proactive portion of your day, where you are in complete control. Make a list, and do at least the one most important thing on your list before getting immersed in your email. Congratulations – you have accomplished something that you wanted to do!

Once you have accomplished something (sometimes this is as small as mailing a letter, or making an appointment) move onto the emails/texts. This is the reactive portion of your day, where you are reacting to what someone else is asking you to do. However, simply reacting to emails in the order in which they were received is rarely a good idea. Instead, prioritize between important and unimportant emails.

If there is an immediate need to respond – something time sensitive or from your boss – do that immediately. Once that is complete, do a quick scan of your emails and delete all the spam. Next, determine the messages that can be handled with a quick response – “yes,” “no,” and “thank you.” Finally, move on to the important emails that require thoughtful and/or researched responses. Prioritize between those emails, and move down the list, responding to the most time sensitive or crucial email first. Set aside times during the day when you are going to be completely focused on handling your emails and texts.

Sometimes, an email response might be better served by making a phone call, or a quick trip through the office to the sender’s desk. Personal interaction is often a better and quicker method of getting a point across. Just because the question was sent via email, doesn’t mean that the response must be via email.

Treat your text messages the same way. You are under no obligation or requirement to respond immediately. Let’s repeat that – you are not required to respond immediately, even if the message comes in the form of a text. Remember, you are the one in control of your time.

The trick is to become more proactive, less reactive, and to take control. Learn how to use technology and all it offers to your advantage, and not let it (and others) control you.

– Deb Schneider, Co-Founder and CEO

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