Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, we’ve all heard the term Weapons of Mass Destruction, or WMD thrown around quite a bit… but let’s talk about a different type of WMD – Weapons of Mass Distraction! My last post; 1000 LB Bombs, Trust and Commercial Real Estate, touched on how I’ve found myself wasting time on non money-making activities like marketing, instead of the meat and potatoes of what we do. In that post, I ended with the following statement:
…if you’re not wasting time on marketing, you’re probably wasting it somewhere else – figure it out, and change that.”
What’s the biggest WMD and time-waster out there? One word – Email. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, we spend 28 percent of the workweek dealing with email… 28 percent! If you work 40 hours per week, that’s an average of 11.2 hours on email (50 hours = 14 hours). If you’re like the average person, do the math and see how much time you’re wasting every week.
With the connected world that we live in, it’s unbelievably easy to get distracted by email, so this statistic really isn’t that shocking. I ran an experiment in January to see how much time I spent on the following five categories during the workweek:
- Other (commuting, reading, etc.)
I categorized prospecting and proposals as money-making activities (MMA), and meetings, email and other as non-money-making activities (NMMA), and tracked the time that I spent on each through a simple app on my phone for a week (ATracker). Day 1 was shocking, as I spent far too much time on NMMA’s, and not enough time on prospecting and proposals. I got better throughout the week as I was more cognizant of my time, but found that email was still the #1 WMD in my life. Here’s how I fixed that:
It’s easy to get distracted when your email platform is open all of the time – it doesn’t matter what you’re working on, because once you hear that chime and see that little box pop up at the bottom of your screen, you have to check your email and respond instantly. I put an end to this, and only check email twice per day – 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM (Monday through Friday). I schedule it on my calendar, and block off 30 minutes to handle all email – both messages that I’ve received, and messages that I know I need to send. It was difficult at first, but now I love it.
It’s one thing to remove the distraction from your computer, but what about your phone? A chime or buzz every time you receive a new email, and what about the red badge icon on the mail app that shows how many emails are sitting in your inbox? Turn it all off! You can find instructions on how to do it here.
How many eBlasts do you receive every day? Probably a ton. I used to receive in upwards of 50 emails every day that weren’t relevant to me, most of which were property eBlasts for buildings halfway across the country, hard-money lending pitches, recent closings that some random firm had in Florida, market reports from areas that definitely were not my market, today’s residential loan rates, etc. The list was massive, and I never subscribed to any of them…. so I started unsubscribing from all of them. One of the easiest ways to spend less time on email, is to receive fewer emails!
4. Communicate Differently
Another way to receive fewer emails, is to send fewer emails. Why send an email to your colleague down the hall, when you can simply buzz them on the phone, or walk 20 feet to their office? Have a number of questions for your client? Call them and take care of it in one shot, instead of sending 10 emails back and forth. How many times have you emailed someone a list of questions, and they either didn’t answer one of the questions, or gave you an answer that wasn’t very clear?
I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient with my most valuable and finite resource; time, and managing your email effectively is one way to win the war on Weapons of Mass Distraction.
This strategy works for me, but I’m curious what strategies work for you?