When Does a Habit No Longer Serve You?

In our first conversation, my new client Mary told me she struggled to manage the huge amount of email she received. The way she looked at it, she isn’t spending enough time each day processing the 150 and 200 emails she receives on average (and of those, 60 – 70% require additional action on her part).

Mary’s habit is to devote 30 minutes at the end of the day to process her email, then finishes late at night after her family goes to bed. Obviously working that late to process email wasn’t a part of her “ideal day,” so we knew we needed to figure out a way that she could process the email during regular work hours.

Mary had created some great systems but she was still drowning in overwhelm.

So our first step in creating her unique time management plan was to create specific blocks of time in her calendar devoted to email. But during our next session, she confessed that she still felt she’s not disciplined enough, because she could not always process email during her planned time at the end of the day.

What prevented her from keeping her scheduled email time?

Typically, she needed to finish up “just one more thing” for a client, or her boss stopped in with a request, or a co-worked needed her input. These took precedent.

It’s obvious “more discipline” isn’t the problem or the solution! And “trying harder” to build this habit isn’t the solution.

BUT … switching the time of day is! You see, keeping up with a new system for weeks wouldn’t work if the system was flawed!

So, the next week, Mary aimed to process emails first thing in the morning. Yes, I know, many time management gurus advise against this, however because she is a bit of a slow starter in the morning, being able to ease into her day while the office is still quiet works best for her.

When we got back together to assess Mary’s progress she was a little more optimistic! On 3 of the 5 working days, she was able to devote the first hour of her day to processing her email, however she was still frustrated because on the other two days, she was often interrupted during this dedicated time.

On the three days she was able to manage emails, she was in the office at 7:30am and could devote herself to quietly working through her inbox for an hour. On the two days she struggled, she had morning meetings and didn’t arrive in her office until 9 am. By this time, the office was hopping, people needed her attention, and she struggled to “force herself” to do email.

So we easily fine-tuned the new process. In the following week Mary scheduled email time for 7:30am whenever she could be in the office by that time, but on the days her schedule wasn’t conducive to this plan, she scheduled two 30-minute blocks throughout the day.

She knew that the first block could not be immediately when she returned to the office, as co-workers and clients typically took precedence during this time, and the second block could not be the end of the day as this was when she was finishing up last minute requests for clients.

AND … success!!!

So stop and think about this in your own work life. Where do you blame yourself for seeming shortcomings, when a simple planning adjustment could solve the problem? Share your ideas below!

If you find yourself often in Mary’s position, why continue to blame yourself? Get some outside help! With a little coaching, you can make the kind of simple changes Mary did and create more success in your life. Schedule a complimentary Discovery Session today!

(Important!! My complimentary discovery conversations aren’t for everyone! They are only for people that are eager to make a change, willing to invest in the solution, and ready to move out of their comfort zones. If this describes you, please click the link below!)

 

2 Comments

  1. Psychic Nest April 5, 2016 at 10:44 AM - Reply

    Hi Lisa and Holly,

    This article is spot on! The problem is that letting of a habit, it also may mean that we need to leave people behind and this is not easy sometimes. Great site, great advice, keep it up with wonderful work!

    Zaria
    Psychic Nest recently posted…Spiritual Education Prep-GuideMy Profile

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