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September Time
Management Wisdom
  Getting a Grip on Email

Jack be Nimble
Jane be Quick



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September 2005 Christine Lassiter, Editor

A disaster like Hurricane Katrina puts life into perspective, making us realize what’s important. As we do our best to help the residents of the Gulf Coast, we become more grateful for the riches in our lives—our families, friends, homes, jobs, and opportunities.  

Too often, though, in the busy-ness of our lives, we end up with less and less time for the people and projects that really matter to us.

This month’s edition of the e-newsletter focuses on the ways in which our addiction to email limits the amount of time we invest in more focused activities. We offer you  strategies for taking control of technology… in return giving you a chance to reconnect to what’s important…time for reflection, time for concentration and time for people.

Happy Organizing

We are happy to announce the release of Julie’s paperback edition of Never Check Email in the Morning (and other unexpected strategies for making your worklife work), in stores September 27th.  Pick up a copy at your local bookstore.
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We know how it goes…you keep meaning to get organized, but never find the time. You say to yourself, hiring an organizer would be great, yet, you never quite make the call (By the way, the average client hangs on to our phone number for 9 months before placing the call!). 

It seems no matter how old we get, September always signifies the beginning of the “year.”  This fall we want to set you off on the right foot so you can get a fresh start.

To motivate you to take action on your goals to get organized, we are offering a signed copy of Julie’s newly released book to the first 10 of you that complete a needs assessment and a minimum 4 hour organizing session by November 1, 2005. The power, clarity and freedom that come with being organized is within your reach. Call for more information.
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With the expansion of our Organizing team, we can now service; Western New York, Fairfield County CT and surrounding areas, New York City’s 5 boroughs, North East New Jersey, Philadelphia, South Carolina, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Boston. Don’t forget, we’re having an organizer training seminar in Chicago this October, and a Los Angeles Training session in November. If you’re interested please fill out the application on our website under the Organizing Services tab - Professional Organizer Training.
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  • Women’s World (September 2005)
  • Men’s Health (September 2005)
  • Seventeen (October 2005)
  • Better Homes & Gardens (October 2005)

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According to and America Online, the Top time-wasting activities by US workers are:

Surfing Internet for personal use
23.4% Socializing with coworkers
6.8% Conducting personal business

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With Julie’s new paperback, Never Check Email in The Morning, in bookstores this month, we wanted to give you a glimpse into some of the strategies that Julie focuses on. There are many things that contribute to our lack of attention and focus on the job, but lets face is the biggest time-sucker of the modern workday. We interrupt ourselves every five minutes to check our in-boxes, hoping for something more interesting, more fun, or more urgent than whatever we’re working on in that moment. Checking email interrupts continuity in our thought process, and not surprisingly, our productivity plummets as a result. 

The most dramatic, effective way to boost your productivity is to completely avoid email for the first hour of the day. Instead, devote that first hour every day to your most critical task. When you devote your first hour to concentrated work, the day starts with you in charge of it rather than the other way around. It’s a bold statement to others and yourself that you can take control, pull away from the frenetic pace, and create the time for quiet work when you need it. In reality, if you don’t consciously create the time for the most important work, it won’t get done. 

But even if you avoid email for the first hour of the day, it still has a way of eating your time alive. Here are some other ways to loosen the grip of email.

  • Keep your email alarm off.  Check email at designated times of day – e.g., 10am, 2pm, 5pm.  If an issue is that critical or urgent, someone will call you. Ninety percent of the time, things can wait.
  • Process emails fully during your email sessions.  Respond immediately to emails that can be answered in two minutes or less. For emails that require more thought or research before responding, schedule a specific time later in your day to take care of the matter, and respond then.
  • Say what you need in the subject line.  In many cases, you can write everything you need to in the subject line, keeping the body of the email wonderfully blank – “Please schedule staff meeting for Friday 11am,” “Lunch meeting set for 1:30.”  Similarly, if you need an immediate response, say so in the subject line – “URGENT”- and ask others to do the same.
  • Stick to one or two points per email.  Long-winded emails that require scrolling down the screen don’t match people’s attention span on the monitor. It’s much more efficient to write a separate email for each issue than one twelve-page letter to catch someone up on ten complicated matters.

Bottom line, email should never be used as a substitute for all human contact. Some people hate when a coworker or direct report who sits eight feet away from them writes an email instead of speaking in person. As a general rule, only use email to convey dot like information; discussions about creativity, and lengthy work should be done in person.

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Our initial statistics are in, and the results are astounding! Our studies show that before completing the Jack be Nimble, Jane be Quick workshop attendees spent on average 1.6 hours a day on high-level, concentrated work. Six weeks after completing the course, the same attendees reported that they had increased their concentrated work to 2.9 hours a day…that’s an increase of 82%!!  Another statistic shows that before taking the course our attendees spent 4.2 hours a day on email, after completing the course that figure dropped to 2.3 hours…a decrease of 44%. And possibly the most dramatic result, before taking Jack be Nimble, Jane be Quick attendees had an average of 13 hours of backlog on their desks…6 weeks after the course they averaged 5 hours of backlog remaining, a whopping 56% decrease in backlog. 

Jack Be Nimble, Jane Be Quick is a corporate training workshop that is designed to teach participants practical skills and strategies they can use to regain control of their work life, improve their productivity, and find a healthy work/life balance. By the end of the one-day session, participants will be able to:

  • Work fewer hours while accomplishing the same or more amounts of work
  • Recover at least one hour per day to devote to critical high-level tasks
  • Add one enjoyable activity per week into their time off,
  • Choose to do the most important tasks first
  • Reduce the time spent on unnecessary interruptions and in meetings
  • Stretch time by planning and controlling multitasking,
  • Improve their ability to focus in a highly distractible environment

To bring the Jack Be Nimble, Jane Be Quick workshop to your organization, or to find out more, please call us at 212-544-8722.

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Please take a few minutes to complete a few questions for our work-place study. Click here to take a quick a survey.
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Dear Julie,

I consider myself to be a pretty organized and productive worker, but I've been surprised to see how much of a difference the Jack be Nimble, Jane be Quick workshop has made on my work life. I am now able to recognize when I'm being unproductive, and get myself back on track to productivity using the tools we learned through Julie's workshop. My favorite strategy is recognizing legato vs. staccato work. I now make a much more conscious effort to fill my days with legato work rather than staccato work.

I'm sure this workshop will be a success and I only wish everyone at my agency could have had the opportunity I did.


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©2005 Julie Morgenstern’s Professional Organizers. All rights reserved.