Priority Setting. Goals “Never Check E-Mail in the Mornings” by Julie Morgenstern (Aug. 2009)

Susan’s Thursday morning note August 13, 2009
Organization – Setting Goals
Don't Check E-Mail in Mornings by Julie Morgenstern
Eat That Frog! By Brian Tracy
Good morning! The coffee is perfect, but the caffeine hasn’t necessarily hit my fingers yet! I’m going to try a new experiment on the only living plant I’m responsible for…give a little of my coffee each morning to it. I wonder if that will help the droopy “Good Morning” it seems to not have the ability to give me (grin or sigh?!?). I think since school is just beginning to start again, organizational goals begin again for me each fall. I pulled out two books this week that I use for advice on organizing my thoughts, goals, plans (both daily and long-term). The first I wrote on in 2007, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. This book gave ideas to stop procrastinating, to setting long-term goals for family, health, work, personal life, then making daily choices that correspond with those goals. I highly recommend this book (you can read about this in a past newsletter of mine).  One phrase that sticks with me from this book is One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all.
The other book that I pull out for organization is Never Check E-Mail in the Morning and Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work by Julie Morgenstern. She speaks to those in business, but I believe that what she writes on would be beneficial to everyone. She discusses the most important time in the day as being the first hour….where many of us have developed the habit of going onto the computer. Change the rhythm of the workday by starting out with your own drumbeat. The most dramatic, effective way to boost your productivity is to completely avoid e-mail for the first hour of the day. Instead, devote your first hour to concentrated work…the day starts with you in charge of it rather than the other way around. It’s a bold statement to the world (and yourself) that you can take control, pull away from the frenetic pace, and create the time for quiet work when you need it….once you arrive you hit the ground running, instead of wasting half of your precious hour figuring out what you should do. Try it. Turn of your email alarm, turn on your voice mail, and walk into your office with a single focus – completing that critical task. Don’t drop in on a friend. Put on your blinders and tear into your task. The energy you’ll feel from accomplishing it will fuel you all day long.
She addresses those that must check for notes for meetings that morning, etc….but she highly advises not to right away….(I know…I’m on right now (grin) – but it’s the principle….!) She also discusses goal setting and then ideas for planning daily to-do-lists, how to recover in the middle of a derailed day, and how to maneuver through “crunch” times. She discusses what uses up incredible amounts of our work time…nibblers.
The “nibblers” are distractions that gnaw at our ability to concentrate, threaten our productivity, sabotage our plans, and steal hours every day.
1. Perfectionism
2. Procrastination
3. Interruptions
4. Meetings
Perfectionism: When left unchecked can lead to dangerous work standstills. It’s a burden that can zap the joy out of work and create physical health problems from increased anxiety to high blood pressure. She then discusses “selective perfectionism – the art of deciding which tasks need to be perfect, and which ones can just be good enough.
Procrastination: To postpone or to avoid performing a task out of anxiety, rather than time constraints or logic…wasting energy taking multiple trips to coffee maker, checking e-mails, rearranging…all to avoid what needs done.
Interruptions: The most menacing nibbler, is a delicate balance…she devotes time helping us to make a distinction between important interruptions (family, friends needing us) from interruptions we need to minimize.
Meetings: She discusses strategies for deciding what to be involved in vs. what to cut out of our schedules….all by looking at our family, personal, long-term goals.
It’s hard for me to keep the two books straight. Eat That Frog I recommend as my #1 organization book – for setting personal, family, health, work goals (long term & short term) and then making decisions that correspond with my goals. I read this two years ago and daily think of the ideas of “eating that frog” – doing what I dread doing, or what is weighing heavily on my mind – doing this first, not last…. I know that a lot of you are trying to keep several lives going at the same time…several “worlds” – being a parent, spouse, employee, employer, volunteer, leader, follower….how do we do it all? We can’t. And these books are my favorite for helping me decide what I can do, and what I can let go of. I especially found the idea of perfectionism being a nibbler at my time. How trying to do so much perfectly hurts the overall picture and the ability to do what is important to me. How to balance life, work, mother, wife, friend…
As the new school years begin – let’s reset our goals. The newsletter on Eat That Frog gave questions to ask for what our long term goals are. The author discusses that if we only give ourselves 30 seconds to set some of the goals our brains will accomplish the same goals as if we gave a few hours to think of our goals. I recommend to you to try these books….I’ve read a lot on trying to decipher what is important – these are my favorites. Now, what in the world am I supposed to get done today? What’s for breakfast? Who was I supposed to call!??!?! Oh, goodness, why doesn’t a Day-Timer work for me? Did I get the beds made? Has Camden had a bath in the last week? Did I get the order placed in time? Oh, shoot…I forgot to call………………it never ends, does it?!?!? (grin) Have a great rest of the week. Smile at the kids. Smile at the parents. Smile at the neighbors & grandparents. We’re all in this together. Making a difference….setting goals…being the best we were created to be. And, during our hour of quiet, before we turn on our e-mails, get on our knees or look to the heavens…our help and peace are there. Thank you for letting me send you my note again today. Let’s make decisions today that have reasons behind them…having the words on our epitaph tonight for the hours we use today be worth writing. I hope I’m working when you come in the store, but always know, if I’m not, how much we thank you for giving us your business. I hope you know that it really does matter. Have a great day! Susan
Latin for this week: 
Dimidium facti qui coepit habet - He who has begun has the work half done (Horace) 

Works Cited: 
Morgenstern, Julie. Never Check E-Mail in the Morning. New York. Simon & Schuster. 2005. 
Tracy, Brian. Eat That Frog! San Francisco. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 2007.