There are two principles which have helped me to increase my productivity recently. They occurred to me during a coaching session.
The inbox isn’t our work
For those of us who spend a lot of time working with email it is easy to become caught up in the illusion that the inbox is the workplace. It is true that a lot of our work may come to us through this medium, but that does not mean that work is equal to and captured by the email inbox. There are other places for us, other media which we should be adopting. When we become a slave to the inbox, we lose our sense of perspective and can often not see what is important (especially if it doesn’t show up in email!)
I’m more productive than I think I am
I now do a weekly and monthly review process. This gives me an opportunity to look back over a meaningful timeframe and see what I have done. I look through the diary, email, personal and work journals. I capture a summary of what I have done that week or month, and give myself a mini-report (it doesn’t have to be written). These reviews invariably dig up a volume of work beyond what I would expect. They are a pleasant surprise.
So – by taking myself out of the inbox, and ensuring that I don’t spend too much time each day on email, and regularly reviewing what I have achieved – it is possible to shift perspective and escape the ‘busy’ trap.