Yet when I talk to people in my business coaching role, most confess that this investment in time yields very poor business results. So why do we still do it?
Advances in brain research give us a clue. Scientists tell us that our brains release a feel-good hormone called dopamine, when we achieve something – our self-reward mechanism for encouraging good behaviour! Neuroscientist Charles Gerfen has found that some neurons in the nucleus accumbens produce opiods – so we can literally get a high from thinking! The problem is it is short lived, and so in order to maintain that feel good feeling we need to keep having these “successes” to continue to feel good. Our brain rewards us with feel-good chemicals when we appear to be busy achieving something – for example, when , ticking things off a ToDo list or emptying our email inboxes. To be really effective we have to ignore our own internal reward system , and ask ourselves if what we are currently doing is actually adding true value to the business.
Here are some email tips to stop feeding our drug addiction:
- Determine set times to read and action emails.Outside those times work on value creating activities.Email is not synchronous, or real-time, and by stopping acting like it is, we break the cycle and reduce the drug supply.
- Make decisions based on relative, not absolute, importance and urgency...Everything seems important and urgent in isolation.Prioritise the most important, most urgent things and do those first.This will provide a much more rewarding high, when we see real business results achieved.
- Do not use your inbox as a ToDo list.Delete, delegate or deal with them.To deal with emails and get them out your inbox, either respond immediately or diarise when you will respond.This way your inbox will be empty and temptations for short-lived and distracting dopamine highs are removed.