As small business owners and operators our ever shrinking ‘Disposable Time’ is constantly being squeezed by the next ‘Must have’ technology tool. Just think about the recent time thieves such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even good old Email – Who now has to check the spam trap for legitimate emails, even before dealing with the overflowing inbox? Not to mention following up sent emails that never arrive. It doesn’t even stop when we leave the office, the traditional briefcase of take home work has now been replaced by the pocket sized version – a smart phone.

According to a recent iPass study of mobile workers (people who work on the go rather than office based), 35% check their email in bed before doing anything else….causing friction between workers and their partners….. Now who would have thought that!!

The results also showed that mobile workers have a hard time being physically separated from their smart phones – even when it’s time to sleep. 61% surveyed keep the phone in the bedroom, and 41% have it within arm’s reach. 39% of them wake up in the middle of the night to check their smart phones and the number jumps to 58% when it is within arm’s reach.

Apparently mobile workers also work on an average 240 hours per year more than the regular workforce. With much of that amount of time spent on the phone checking for emails.

So how do we manage this? – The experts tell us to follow 4 simple rules:

  1. Turn off notify At work – turn off the automatic notify. You’ll get more work done because you won’t always be going – “what was that?” better click it! After you are distracted it will take you at least few minutes to get back into work mode.
  2. Check your email 3 times a day say at 11am, 2pm and 4.30pm.
  3. A Call is sometimes quicker than an email If you have more than 2 questions to ask – a phone call is usually quicker than an email. Depending what you are calling about – people may prefer a short phone call – rather than receiving a 2 page email that you have sent them with 10 questions (and 5 of the 10 questions were not needed because of your answers).
  4. Use Rules to automatically sort emails into folders within your inbox:

Whilst there is no doubt that the effective use of email and smart phones can add flexibility and efficiency to your business it is important to effectively manage the tool. Who knows you may even buy back some “Disposable Time” that you once had.

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