Canadian Lawyer

November 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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38 www.canadianlawyermag.com FEATURES PRODUCTIVITY HOW DO you currently spend the first two hours of your day? Unfortunately, most of us grab a coffee, chat with a few colleagues, sit at our desk, open our emails and respond to them from the top down. Then, before you know it, it's 1 p.m. and you're still reacting to requests. News flash! You are letting email dictate your day. Whether you are conscious of it or not, those emails you have read, replied to or filed create distractions and make you unproductive for the whole day. You have given up control of your effectiveness — but the good news is you can win it back. Transform bad habits into good According to an article by DMR, a company that looks at social media statistics and trends, the average user gets around 112 emails per day. (I've heard people say the number varies from Many of us wish there were more hours in the day to get stuff done. Emails are one thing we all have on our to-do list, and they can end up taking way too much time out of our day. Donna McGeorge explains how you can make emails less distracting and be more productive 40 to 200 per day, depending on the role.) What percentage of those are important and require a considered response from you? The answer is almost unanimously 10 per cent. A study by the University of Glasgow found that we use email correctly to leverage time zones or answer a well-defined question only 20 per cent of the time. The rest is a waste, and much of it could have been better handled by a phone call or face-to-face discussion. Many of these productivity problems arise because we are operating on autopilot. We don't think about what, when or even why we are doing things; we just do them in the order in which the tasks came to us or how they're written on our to-do list. Well, no more! Leave it 'til lunch For most of us, our peak alertness is at 10 a.m. and our best co-ordination is at around How to make emails less distracting 2.30 p.m. This is best explained by the work of Michael Smolensky and Lynne Lambert, published in their book The Body Clock Guide to Better Health, which describes a person's typical circadian rhythm. Hence, tasks that require attention and focus are best done in the morning, and repetitive tasks are best done in the afternoon when your body is naturally looking for a rest while it digests your lunch. At this time, we often experience a drop in attention, memory, logical reasoning and mood. This is not a good time to have a meeting where critical decision-making or problem- solving is required, but it is a good time to do things like, yes, answer emails. While it does seem ridiculously late, remember that only about 10 per cent of your email requires a considered response, so now you can manage and process the remaining

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