Worked hard, but got nothing done?

Do you recognize the feeling? At the end of a hectic workday, you realize that you were super busy the entire time, but that you hardly accomplished anything meaningful. You may have chatted a lot in Teams, handled a myriad of emails, and participated enthusiastically in different meetings. Despite all your efforts, the pile of work in the evening is still just as high as it is in the morning.

The culprit of this professional crime is the reactive workday. It seems as if we have become our own desk clerk. Due to Teams, Outlook, and Whatsapp, we are permanently in reaction mode. Due to the connection with the outside world, we are no longer slaves to our own agenda (hurrah!), but to that of our colleague’s agendas (less hurrah).

“Never check your email in the morning”, is the catchy title of Julie Morgenstein’s 2005 book. Seventeen years later, this advice is still rock solid. Anyone who has the courage to focus on their core tasks for just 30 minutes right away in the morning, before reading anything digitally, will have a proactive start to their day. Morning is the best time to immediately check off several crucial tasks from your to-do list. Then, for the rest of the day, you remain in proactive mode because that “smart start” reminds you where your priorities really lie, giving you that good feeling at the end of the day.

Hopefully, the book will be revised one of these days. I fear that the title will have to be updated a bit: “Never check your e-mail, Whatsapp, chat, Teams-channels, Teams Activity feed, sms, Messenger and any other digital communication tool in the morning.” The publisher will probably disapprove of that title for being too long. But why should advice that sounds less sexy be less valuable…?

Worked hard, but got nothing done?
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