Rule Your Technology Before It Rules You

On 5 June 2018, I attended FranklinCovey’s course, “The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity“. It was such an exhilarating course that I began implementing the technology-related productivity tips the next day.

The basic premise of the course is that, “we all have the potential to do extraordinary things.” By implementing the “5 Choices” consistently, we can achieve extraordinary productivity in our work and personal lives.

The 5 Choices are:

  1. Act on the important
  2. Go for extraordinary
  3. Schedule the big rocks
  4. Rule your technology
  5. Fuel your fire

I focused my initial efforts on organizing my Outlook inbox; rule your technology. I spend far too much time trying to stay organized and had hundreds of unnecessary emails sitting in my inbox. I justified keeping them by saying that I might need them one day. I rarely did.

Managing Your Workflow

As FranklinCovey reveals, the key to increased productivity is to effectively manage your workflow. When you receive an email, you have three choices:

  1. Act on it (e.g. appointments or tasks)
  2. File it (e.g important notes or contacts)
  3. Delete it

During the course, I learned a new technique for taming Outlook. When you receive an email with an appointment request, task, or contact, you can drag the email (left click + drag) to the options bar which features the following: Mail | Calendar | People | Tasks.

When you drag an email to the word Calendar, Outlook will automatically display a calendar event where you can adjust the time/date of the event and, if you wish, send an invitation to others. This action will not delete the email from your inbox.

You can also drag emails to the word Task which allows you to create a task. The pop-up box will allow you to make adjustments.

Likewise, if there is a contact you wish to keep, left click and drag the email to the word People. Outlook will display a contact box and auto-populate the contact form. You can highlight a phone number in the person’s signature block and drag it over to the respective phone number section. If you do this, it will remove the phone number from the signature block.

Outlook Tamed

By following the FranklinCovey technique, I was able to quickly tame my inbox by moving, filing and deleting emails. By the time I was done, my inbox was completely empty as if it was brand new. When a new email arrived that wasn’t an appointment, task, or something important to file away for future reference, I instantly deleted it.

I ended my work day feeling energized knowing that I had a simple system to manage my emails which would give me more time to write and focus on the tasks at hand. There is no doubt in my mind that if I maintain this system that I will achieve increased productivity at work.

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