So far in this series, I have written about disruption and the effect it can have on our productivity and sense of accomplishment, and I’ve shared some examples of the mistakes I have made personally. I also gave you a list of what not to do when you feel overwhelmed in your work. Today I’m going to share with you what you can do right now to feel more productive and less exhausted and overwhelmed.
I just completed teaching a series on Digital Tidying Up which I based on the work of Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I taught this course here at Seton Cove and also took it to the hospital staff throughout the Seton hospital system. I gathered examples of just how disruptive technology can be. The incredible technology that is connecting people in new and exciting ways is also demanding more attention from us each day. In this final installment in the series, I am going to focus on technology in the five examples of things you can do today to minimize the disruption that may be leaving you feeling disconnected from your calling.
1. Write Out a To-Do List
One of the kindest things you can do for yourself is to begin your day with a to-do list. I have written and spoken about this many times, but we operate in a culture where it is far too easy to confuse our email’s inbox with our to-do list. Your to-do list is a list of priorities for yourself – set by you, your colleagues, supervisor or family members. Your email’s inbox is a list of other people’s priorities for you. When we work as if our inbox is our to-do list it becomes more difficult to feel accomplished because the things that make us feel accomplished are those things that we place on our own to-do list, not the random list of what other people are asking us to do.
2. Tell Everyone You Check Email Only Once a Day
This is one thing you can start telling people right away. They may think you are crazy and they may suddenly become filled with jealousy, but by saying this you are changing others’ expectations around your availability online. I speak to all sorts of professionals who complain that their supervisors or colleagues expect a response within minutes of sending an email and I am trying to spread the message that this is not how email was intended to be used. If you are a supervisor and expect an immediate response to a communication, there are other tools that are better suited to this level of immediacy. Chat messaging platforms like Skype or Spark make immediate, rapid communication simple and much easier to read, search and organize than an email threads with multiple recipients that can stretch on for pages.
Email is still the ‘killer app’ but if it feels like it’s killing your productivity then you may need to branch out to other modes of communication.
3. Start Checking Email 3 Times a Day
So you begin spreading the message that you only check email once a day, but you probably feel the need to check it more often. In that case, I recommend checking it 3 times a day at very specific times.
Have you ever seen the old Dr. Pepper bottles with a clockface in the logo showing hours 10, 2 and 4? Those were the times of day when Dr. Pepper’s researchers (using dubious science) proved that people should drink their soft drink to keep their energy levels up. While drinking that many sodas a day is not recommended, I do recommend setting the intention of checking your email at 3 specific times per day. If you are checking your email at 10 am, it means that you are not starting your day in your inbox and preferably starting it with your to-do list instead. If you are checking your email at 4 pm then you are not ending your day with email and preferably reviewing that day’s accomplishments. Just the act of taking a moment to review what you have accomplished in a day can greatly increase your sense of satisfaction in your work. I know this has been the case for me.
4. Disable That Email Pop-up
You know that little preview pane you get in the corner of your screen every time you receive an email? If you are using Microsoft Outlook the feature comes as the default. Gmail also has a desktop client that can push those notifications to your desktop. I went into my settings and disabled this option over a month ago and I have never been happier. I check my email at specific times of the day now instead of chasing every shiny object of an email that pops up throughout the day.
5. Turn That Smartphone Upside-Down
If you are sitting at a desk right now, chances are your smartphone is sitting somewhere close at hand with its screen facing up. Why don’t you reach over right now and just flip it over. If you are reading this email on your smartphone then keep if facing up by all means (while you read this!) but when you are finished using it, place it face down and see if it makes you feel less distracted. Short of turning our phones off, making visual access to them less convenient can help us remain more focused on the task at hand.
The Antidote to Exhaustion
I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you some of the struggles I have faced in my journey toward wholeheartedness in my work. In Seton Cove’s first online course Finding Heart in Your Work Online we will dive deeper into the things that can get between us and our true calling. We will look at the lesson poet David Whyte learned from his spiritual director who said, ‘The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest … The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.’ I hope you have come away this week with something that you can take into your own work that will help reconnect you with your calling and help you work more wholeheartedly.
Finding Heart in Your Work online
A Month-Long Online Course
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buechner
Are you seeking a renewed sense of meaning and fulfillment in your work? Would you like to feel more innovative in your work and less overwhelmed? In this month-long course you will learn how to approach your work as a spiritual practice-embracing your imperfections while cultivating your strengths. Through the use of mythology, film, literature and sacred scripture, we will rediscover a deep sense of purpose for our lives that resonates with both external reality and our own inner truth. Instead of conditioning ourselves to work more, which can lead to burnout, we will explore what it means to engage our work with our whole hearts, and how wholeheartedness can be the antidote to burnout. We will nurture and ground our self-discovery with contemplative practices and rituals so that we may once again find heart in our daily work.
Classes will be delivered online and for our final meeting students will have the choice of an Austin happy hour or interactive webinar. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to explore your true calling-remotely and in community. Join Daniel in this four-part online course.
Month-Long Online Series
Mar 1 (W)
$75 (Includes 4 online modules [unlocked weekly] + Happy Hour or Interactive Webinar)
$55 (Discount for Seton & Ascension Associates and Leadership Pilgrimage Students & Graduates)
Finding Heart in Your Work – online
About Daniel Hope
Daniel Hope, MA, LMFT-A, is an educator and spiritual director at the Seton Cove. Daniel worked previously at Seminary of the Southwest where he also earned his counseling degree and is now a License Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. Daniel is passionate about helping people cultivate deeper relationships. He founded the marriage retreat and workshop series, The Commitment Project. Daniel also has a background in social media strategy and has spoken at three SXSW Interactive conferences on the effects of social media on business and our interpersonal relationships. Daniel and his wife, Leslie, just celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary and live in North Austin with their two young daughters, Camilla and Violet.