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How to work less and get more done

January 9, 2013
By Jeff Mowatt


Jan. 9, 2013 – When it comes to a manager's productivity, email is the
silent killer. To demonstrate the impact of this, consider the
productively of a successful business advisor who minimizes his use
email, with this advice from Jeff Mowatt. 

Jan. 9, 2013 – In the days before email entered our lives (up till the mid 1990s),
the most pervasive interruption for the average manager was a ringing
phone. Even then, more managers had secretaries who screened their
calls. Then along comes email. Managers now receive dozens of messages
from anyone – including spammers. The problem gets worse as employees
who are sending email messages within a company can easily send copies,
no matter how trivial, to everyone else – including to other managers.
The end result is that with the advent of email it's easy for a manager
to spend an entire day reacting to other people's priorities.

That's why when it comes to a manager's productivity, email is the
silent killer. To demonstrate the impact of this, consider the
productively of a successful business advisor who minimizes his use

Farm boy wisdom
I'm referring to my father, Bill Mowatt. Dad is a little like Michael Corleone in The Godfather. He keeps trying to retire but they just keep calling him back.
Born on a farm in Saskatchewan during the Depression, Dad quit school
with a grade 10 education. Eventually, he started an oil and gas
service company that grew to employ more than 400 employees with annual
revenues of over $40 million. In the process he created a network of
some 30 successful spin-off companies. By the time Dad officially
retired as president and CEO of CEDA International, the Royal Bank of
Canada had nominated him as being one of Calgary's most successful
entrepreneurs. Not bad for a Saskatchewan farm boy. One of the secrets
to his success is the way he manages his time.


Since his 'retirement,' executives in the oil patch have sought Bill's advice when considering new business startups and acquisitions.
Frequently, he'll be acting as an advisor to several companies.
Because he's 'retired', Dad only agrees to work a maximum of five to ten
days per month so that he can spend more time working with his horses.
The days that he does work, it's only for a few hours. After all, he
doesn't really need the money – he only does it because he enjoys it.
In other words, he doesn't want to work hard or long. In observing how
he works though, I think one of the smartest decisions he's made in his
consulting practice is minimizing the correspondence he does with his
clients by e-mail.

By rarely giving out his email address, Dad doesn't feel obligated
to respond to the myriad of messages that are being copied to him simply
because it's easy to send him a copy. If someone needs a fast response
from Dad they pick up the phone. That way he's not spreading a
conversation over five emails – he's doing it once. Most importantly,
the time that Dad would have spent sorting through other people's email
messages is instead spent focusing on corporate strategy. That's what
his client's are paying him for. In other words, he consciously
minimizes e-mail so that he's less 'busy' and more 'productive'.

I'm not saying that e-mail is all-bad. I use it regularly and
recognize that it has its benefits. I'm just sharing an example of how
one manager is actually more effective by minimizing the 'labour
saving' technology. Most of us can and will continue to use e-mail.
But we need to recognize that e-mail can be one of several factors that
are taking us off-track from the strategic project work that we should
be working on. In other words, when it comes to labour-saving
technology, managers need to ensure they are not sacrificing their
effectiveness on the alter of efficiency.

Customer service strategist and professional speaker, Jeff Mowatt is an authority on The Art of Client Service .  .  .  Influence with Ease®.  For Jeff's other tips, self-study resources, and training services on time management, click Juggling Projects, Customers, and Administration.

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