Emails, Phone Calls and Meetings

Juggling tasks at work

Do you ever have important tasks you wish to complete in a day but find at the end of it you haven’t even started?  That your time has been taken up with lots of small jobs like emailing, phone calls and meetings?  Have you ever wondered what you can do so that these things take up less of your time? 


There are so many things each day which compete for our attention - some of them important and many not.  Here are some suggestions on things we can do to minimise these distractions so we can make the most of our time:


  • EmailsTurn off any alerts which let you know an email has arrived.  That way you won’t be distracted from the task that you’re in, and can check emails when you choose. 
  • Do your most important tasks of the day in the morning while you’re fresh and concentrating well.   Only switch on emails later in the day and preferably after 11:00 to give you a couple of good quality work hours first.
  • Check email twice a day, for example at 12:00 and 4:00, or even less, perhaps at just 3:00.  This maximises the chances of responses to any previous emails sent being there waiting for you, and means you can do all your emailing in two blocks or less rather than having emails interrupt your work right through the day.
  • Set an autoresponder saying that you will be checking your emails at specified times, so that’s when people can expect their replies.  Direct people who need an urgent response to your cellphone.


Phone Calls

  • PhoneThe phone is your tool, not your master.  Decide when to use it and when not to.  This means switching it off or to silent when you are doing important tasks so that your concentration and performance is maximised.
  • Use the answer machine function.  This means that callers leave a succinct message and you can action all calls at set points in the day to optimise your time use.
  • Having multiple phone numbers for different purposes can assist with ‘triage’ of incoming calls.  Some phone numbers can be diverted for other people to respond on your behalf.  Some can go direct to an answer machine where that meets the needs of the caller.  One number should be your ‘emergency’ number, i.e. the one you answer in person and immediately where possible.  Train people to use this sparingly and where possible use email, text or landline answer machine to meet their needs whilst allowing you to prioritise your responses instead of responding to people in the order in which they contact you.



  • MeetingUse meetings to make decisions and drive action.  If someone proposes a meeting, ask them to send you an email with some information to allow you to prepare for it, including the topic and any questions that need to be addressed.   This will define the purpose of the meeting for all parties and help it stay on task.  Set the expectation that attendees are to be prepared and ready to make a decision versus setting another meeting date.
  • Put time limits on meetings.  At the beginning of the meeting, let everyone know the meeting will be concluding at a particular time.  That will help everyone stay focussed and on task.
  • If a meeting has no specific outcome then challenge why the meeting is required at all.
  • Stack meetings to use your time efficiently.  Schedule meetings back to back and in one location to minimise travel and downtime.

If you’d like to know more about how you can manage your time more effectively in your organisation, contact Mike today to see how he can help you get more out of each day.

Author: Mike Catton.  Follow Mike on Facebook and Linked In, or check out his profile on Google+.


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