REFRESH

Your Email Notifications Are Killing Your Productivity

Unless you are a brain surgeon, it can wait 20 minutes.

28/06/2016 3:11 PM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:56
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It's likely they're killing something else besides time.

We're experts in making up excuses as to why we can't practise meditation daily.

We feel stressed, overwhelmed and harried, yet we jump at our device every time an email comes in as if each unread message may hold the key to a cure.

It's ludicrous, but we continue to do so because that's the only way things get done, no?

According to Vanessa Bennett, founder of global high performance coaching company, Next Evolution Performance, this couldn't be more untrue.

"When technology starts to control you, you've lost your ability to be productive," Bennett told The Huffington Post Australia.

However, on the flipside, if you are using technology to help you get through things in less time, and on your terms, well that's when you are on to something.

People need to remember they are not brain surgeons. No one is going to die if you don't get that notification for another 20 minutes.

Bennett coaches individuals, leaders and businesses on how to implement tailored strategies in order to achieve sustained high performance. And her blanket rule when it comes to improving productivity?

Turn off email notifications.

"By doing this, you go to email when it's good for you," Bennett said.

Bennett believes it's best for the brain to focus on one task at a time.

"We're not saying that you can't jump around between tasks, but it's important no matter what your attention span, that you are doing one thing at a time," Bennett said.

Sure, your phone might be on silent at your desk -- but as it lights up to alert you of an email -- the fact of the matter is you are now distracted.

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Instead, Bennett recommends assigning yourself a task for 20 to 30 minutes and upon completion, then moving on to checking your email.

"People need to remember they are not brain surgeons. No one is going to die if you don't get that notification for another 20 minutes," Bennett said.

For those clients who are attached to their email, she recommends checking it every 15 minutes to begin with and even setting an alarm to prompt them to do so.

Ahead, Bennett outlines three major shifts that need to happen, in order to create a workplace of the future.

We need to move with technology


Technology is getting better and better.

"From a functionality point of view we've got video conferencing, we don't need to travel as much, we can spend more time with our families and this is all really positive, but the problem is we're all trying to operate like we're in the Industrial Revolution," Bennett said.

This inflexible notion of being in the office for 9:00am and remaining at your desk for certain periods of time isn't helpful.

"The technology is well ahead of that and allows us to work efficiently without actually being in the office. More workplaces need to take advantage of that," Bennett said.

Improve work-life integration


"If you've got the technology that allows you to catch up on emails after work, and you want to take a few hours off to go to a function at your child's school in the middle of the day, the beauty of it is we can now."

If there are no meetings scheduled, Bennett believes this is something workplaces should be open to.

"Why are people still feeling guilty for taking two hours' off, when they can make up that time later, at a time that suits them? It's about giving people better work-life integration by embracing the technology available to us," Bennett said.

Forget about watching the clock

Hands up who's had a Skype call at 6:00am to the U.S. followed by the normal working day, and a 10:00pm conference with the U.K. later that night?

"The hardest thing is that these people are expected to be putting in face time at the office purely because that's how it's always been done. This is particularly the case at legal and accounting firms. We need to move on from this," Bennett said.

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