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Email Productivity and Reactionary Workflow

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Over at the American Express OPEN Forum, writer Scott Belsky feels that we spend too much time reacting. Instead of working intently, we simply “battle the unyielding flow of incoming information.”

Belsky’s article explained his premise:

Without realizing it, most of us have entered the new era of what I have come to call “reactionary workflow.” Rather than being proactive with our energy, we are acting in response to what is incoming. We have relinquished control of our focus. It has become harder and harder to embark on our work with intention.

There’s no question that we all face a barrage of interruptions which prevent us from effectively planning and creating our time. To address this Belsky offers what has become the standard advice:

How to avoid a life of reactionary workflow? It all starts with some discipline (and imposing some blockades around your focus). I have interviewed a number of people who literally quit (or minimize) their email program at certain times during the day. Piers Fawkes, founder and editor of PSFK, actually reserves his morning – from 7-10am every day – to do research and digest the day’s trends/news prior to going through his email. Impose some discipline on yourself to ensure that adequate time is spent on proactively creating stuff (rather than just responding!).

We have commented before on the problem with worker productivity tips and employee productivity shortcuts. Turning off your email program is good advice, but it’s not nearly as powerful as changing your perspective on email. Individuals who want to be more productive need to take authority and responsibility over their own workflow. Such a step inevitably impacts others and assists in developing reasonable expectations together.

email productivity discussion

© Flickr user Victor1558

If you work in an organization where people expect you to respond to emails within the hour, then turning off your email program will negatively impact your career. Instead, work with your colleagues to develop a reasonable policy that enables you to become more productive. At AccelaWork, we work with stakeholders to develop these systems.  Contact our Indianapolis consultants today to learn how to combat reactionary workflow.

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