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Yesterday was step 1: mastering control over the information.  Next, you need to learn to master control over the technology it comes in on.  Having your email client always open, with messages automatically downloading and giving you an indicator, means that your email is controlling YOU.  Same is true for your Twitter client, and your browser windows with Facebook & LinkedIn pages up.  Here are a few steps that integrate a process for controlling information and for controlling technology:

  • For email, turn OFF the automatic download, so that messages only come in when YOU click send/receive (puts the control back in your hands, rather than keeping you at the mercy of constantly flowing email messages).
  • Set aside time to click that send/receive button only 2-3 times per day, allowing yourself at least one full minute (or until you’re done, whichever comes first) for each message.
  • Be sure that in that minute, you have moved the message out of your inbox (delete it, file it, or move it to your to-do list).  Your email tool should allow you to easily convert emails to tasks. If you don’t have a good system for your to-do list, consider reading my earlier post Are Your Productivity Tools Complicating Your Life.
  • Take the same approach with your Twitter feeds and your other social media tools.  Yes, Twitter is like a constant “great” party, but sometimes you have to be ok with missing the party to stay home, if you catch my drift.  Put another way (from @cjromb): think of Twitter like a river, jump into the flow every now and then, but accept that you can’t touch every drop of water.

I know that you are thinking, “I can’t possibly do that!”  It’s a common response, so let’s talk about what’s going on when you aren’t doing this…

If you are constantly checking your emails, (not to mention your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter Feeds), what you are forcing yourself to do, is to constantly multi-task. Tomorrow I’ll continue the post where we’ll address whether multi-tasking good or bad, and later I’ll discuss the other two steps for mastering control over email and Twitter.

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