Slacking Off

There’s something we all use that could be stopping you from being as productive as you could be.

Something so everyday you might not even recognise the time spent on it as the black hole that it is…guessed what it is yet?

The culprit is EMAIL.

Total freakin’ time suck

You know what it’s like – you want something from your team that’s attached to an email, so you pop in there “really quickly”.

Before you know it you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole of emailing your boyfriend’s cousin-in-law about a family lunch, reading someone’s newsletter with a really catchy headline and then remembering you should send an email to the landlord about that dripping tap – BLAH, what a waste of time!

Email is amazing – it’s fast, reliable and EVERYONE has it (well, perhaps not great aunt Ada, but that’s what greeting cards are for.)

But it’s also a total time suck and can drag you into your Twilight Zone of working.

Melting pot of everything

When you open your email it’s basically like a massive pot with everything from your friends, family, work colleagues and water company in. Which makes it a total flippin nightmare of a place to keep anything important, or anything that you don’t want to lose.

It’s so easy to fall into the habit of using your email as your to do list but I beg you – do NOT do it! It’s not built for that and it’s pretty useless at it.

Not only can emails get lost and forgotten, it also increasingly sucks you into that Twilight Zone of thinking you’re busy and productive when actually you’re just ping ponging around in your inbox.

I have a big, scary assed dream

My big admin dream is to hand over control of my inbox to my assistant, I’d separate my personal emails from business, and she’d filter through just the important need-to-know messages. That way I won’t get bogged down with the time and energy zapping ones.

Relinquishing control of my inbox to someone else is not something that can happen overnight, and requires huge amounts of trust. Big frickin’ scary but a massive tick in my “quest for freedom” box.

I LOVE inbox zero. I love the satisfaction of filing all the emails in the right place and seeing that big ole blank screen with it’s lovely round ZERO. However, I also love my clients and making money and none of that happens if I spend all day hanging out in Gmail.

The good

There are, however many GOOD habits you can get into:

  • separate folders or tags
  • reminders
  • rules that instantly forward certain emails to a specific place or person
  • keeping your inbox closed while you work
  • turning notifications OFF (cos it’s really hard to ignore the little flashing envelope)

The bad

But please, for the love of gin make a point of NOT starting your working day in your inbox.

Or worse – peaking at emails the moment you open your eyes while you’re snuggled under the covers (beds are amazing places for many reasons, but it’s not the time or place to get cosy with your inbox!)

But my team is virtual…

The thing is though, when you work with a virtual team (and those of you without a team, stay put – more for you later) what is the best way to communicate about projects and business goings-on that is fast and efficient?

We can use Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. And we do, and it’s fun but then where do you go when you KNOW you’ve received something but you have all those places to check?

And what about sending files? Or searching for something specific?

So we Slack off

We use an app called Slack. Slack is a communication hub, like combining multiple forms of file sharing and messaging.

We have different “channels” for different topics so that our communication is clear and that stuff doesn’t get lost. Check out the image below of the Slack team I have with my assistant (real life, swearing alert. No, I do not bully her)

Slack channels

I know when I open Slack that the ONLY thing in there is communication from my team. That boundary makes life really easy. It cuts distraction and helps me focus.

If you haven’t got a team but you use freelancers you can also jump on Slack for that, it’s perfect for keeping everyone up to date and making sure that no-one “didn’t see the email”. Or those times that a key person isn’t CC’d – never gonna happen again.

If you’re a VA or have multiple regular clients this is also a godsend for you – keep everyone under one umbrella and save time hopping between different platforms for different people.

Plays well with others

Aaaand Slack plays nicely with others….it integrates with GoogleDrive, DropBox, Hangouts, Soundcloud, Mailchimp, Stripe to name but a few.

So team working docs, first drafts, proofs, ideas, podcasts, payments etc. really can be in once place.

One of our favourites is the integration with iDoneThis. No more wondering whether my assistant has remembered that I asked her to get back to a client or update a page on my site. Which means more headspace to focus on my biz and my clients.

slack for ios

And see – I can take it with me wherever I go. Here’s a screenshot of my phone – where the eagle eyed amongst you may notice that there are quite a few (well, 300+) unread emails waiting for me! See what I mean about a time suck?!

Why am I telling you this?

Because I KNOW you didn’t start your business so that you could work 10,11,12 hour days! Yes, at the beginning it needs a lot of work, but I believe your business should fit in with your ideal lifestyle – not the other way round.

You are the boss of your business, it’s not the boss of you, and the way to reach that level of success is by having great systems and procedures.

Yes it sounds as boring as my 10th grade maths class… but it gives you more freedom, clarity and headspace to focus on what you want, not what every other person in your life and business wants.

Make it count.

The better your tasks, time and workload are organised, the fewer hours you need to put in.

The hours that you do put in should be the ones in your genius zone. Doing the thing that no one else can do as well as you do. The thing that’s the reason you started your own biz in the first place and the one that makes you money too.

How about you?

What do you use to communicate with your team? Share your fave ways with us in the comments below.

If you feel like you aren’t hitting the right balance in your business, if you’re all work and no play and can’t quite see how to turn it round I can help! Click here to book your free 15 minute sesh with me so that we can make sure your business fits your lifestyle, not the other way round.