Recently I spoke to a friend who had started his own company, and works completely by himself. I asked him: “Isn't it tough, that you have to do all the admin and paperwork yourself?”. Upon this, his face turned into a blissful smile and he said: “That's true, but it's so much better as I don't get any internal emails. No internal emails!”
Especially for people in managerial jobs, such as IT Managers or Project Managers, the amount of time that goes into internal collaboration and communication is enormous. Add to this the fact that people in tech usually adopt new gadgets and technologies quickly, and the result will be a person that is 'online' everyday, all day. When your inbox is gradually growing, you're receiving calls, a colleague wants to ask you something at your desk and your engineering team needs you on Slack: it can get quite stressful sometimes.
By not doing anything about this stress, you will eventually risk a burnout. But even before that, we can be much more efficient in our work by allocating our time (and attention span) clearly. It is easier said than done, and might take a bit of time, but there are a few ways to combat connection stress. I will give a few tips focused on effective internal communication, but others can be more generally applied as well.
1) Identify where your problem lies
Every person has their own specific environment. Therefore, it is key to identify which moments or situations create stress for you. When you run into a stressful communication situation, make a note. Whether this is at work or when you're at home, trying to relax but your phone is buzzing from incoming messages. If you do this for a week, you'll have a pretty good idea where your problem lies.
2) Eliminate the unnecessary
If you're distracted by popups of incoming emails of calendar notifications, shut them down. You don't have to look at your email all the time, you might experiment with limiting it to once in the morning, once after lunch, and once before you leave. If someone calls you and you're in the middle of something that needs your concentration, feel free to tell them you'll call them back. Shut your phone off when you're not working. All simple ideas, but it can make a great difference.
3) Streamline the necessary
There are many ways to streamline what you cannot eliminate. One is of course delegating. If there is someone that can do a certain task better and faster for you, why are you still doing it?
Use gadgets that help you streamline such as Boomerang, the service that will allow incoming emails to be bounced to a later time. The tip above, to only check your email a couple times a day, will also work for your texts, Slack, Line etc. Furthermore, when you send emails, use templates. You can save them in most email providers, or put them together in a Google Doc so you always have them at hand. Last but not least: at the beginning of a meeting, set a clear agenda to help you stick to the point. This will help both yourself and your audience to focus, and will increase your ability to finish in 50 minutes instead of an hour.
It's time to work smart, and make the most of your career in IT.
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