When I was a little girl, I remember being fussy about my dinner one night – vegetables were yucky because they turned cold too quickly – my Dad told me to eat the vegetables first so that they wouldn’t be cold and so that the ‘reward’ (the protein was given prize status for some – still – unknown reason) could be savoured last. I thought my dad was a genius and I followed that plan for a long time.

I was reminded of this memory recently during a coaching call with Cameron. Cameron was wanting to unpack some procrastination about his emails. His usual process is to execute all the easy, short emails first, saving the bigger, longer or more complex emails until later. During any typical day, once the easy/quick emails were handled, and before starting in on the more complex ones, more easy emails would arrive or other work tasks would provide a useful distraction. 

We discussed two ways to work through this:

  1. Save the easy emails until last – the reward for tackling the bigger, more complex emails first; or
  2. Still clear the easy emails and then plan the bigger, more complex emails before tackling them.

What we discovered in our conversation was Cameron was a bit stressed about making sure his response to the complex emails were correct, accepted and didn’t make him look wrong/incompetent.

When a complex email landed in Cameron’s inbox his thoughts went straight to how daunting and complex the reply would be, the research required, doubting if his advice would be correct and accepted, and stressing about how he would be perceived.

We spent some time dealing with perception, confidence and his expertise but what I want to share with you is the process he determined to productively work through his emails.

Cameron noted that he never really thought about planning out the more complex emails. He determined he would from now on:

  • read and even re-read the email
  • jot down initial thoughts: ideas, people to consult, files needed, etc.
  • schedule time in his calendar to research and begin a draft response

Just determining these three steps created some clarity and calm for Cameron.

I’d love to know your thoughts… 

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