Don’t Miss Out

In these crazy times, we might be overwhelmed by information and inputs from all directions. You might have thousands of emails building up at work, many messages that you can’t respond to, and news that never seems to stop. We become so worried that we will miss something that we leave the firehose on and allow countless channels of communication to pour into our lives. We filter the messages by what seems most urgent or creates the strongest emotional response right now. 

But we have to be careful that we don’t miss out on the most critical messages. We can do this by intentionally filtering and curating the sources of information that are coming in. Here are a few practical tips:

  1. You may not have a choice of how many emails, slack messages, or Teams mentions you get, but you can limit the interruptions that they cause. Turn off your notifications and choose specific times when you will check these messages. Maybe your schedule is 90 minutes of focused work, and then 90 minutes of responding to messages. A blocked approach is still better than 180 minutes of non-focused work that is interrupted by a message every 2 minutes.
  2. Take some time during the week to have at least a single day when you don’t check messages. Your ‘message-free day’ might be on the weekend, but it could be another day. It will feel weird and scary at first, but you’ll find out at the end of the day that you made it through. And the amazing thing is that you were able to take a step away.
  3. Be honest about whether you are going to answer an email or not. An honest response of, “I don’t have time to put thought to this right now, can you ask this question in 3 weeks?” is better than no response at all. Setting the expectation that you won’t get to it right away takes it off your plate. If it is important to the requestor, they will bring it back in 3 weeks. If they have resolved the question by then – you have saved yourself some time. 

Don’t miss out on the vital information that you will need to make the best decisions. You can do this by managing the amount and quality of information that you are exposed to and are consuming.