Suits, Hats, and Why You Ought to Stay Out of Your Inbox

I recently discovered one of the main reasons why entrepreneurs so often struggle to stay on top of their work and their business.

So if that’s you, and if you want more calm and control in your mind, your days and your business, keep reading…

To start: if there’s ‘suits to wear’ and ‘archetypes to lean into’, then there’s also hats to wear.

Where the suit you wear is about the holistic, purposeful attitude that you bring to your work and your life, the hat you wear is more to do with getting your hands dirty.

You wear the hat of the maker, and you go create your product, or you deliver your service.

There’s the hat of the marketing director, who plans activities and campaigns. There’s the vendor-hat, where you get yourself out there and talk with people, there’s the business owner hat for when it’s tax season… all kinds of hats.

Now, you can generally divide the time you spend into three categories:

Me time: R&R, exercise, friends, hobbies, learning a new skill and so on.

Make time: That’s when you get stuff done – both the making of your product or service, but also all the business & marketing related actions around it.

Meet time: that’s when you interact with folks – whether emails, whatsapp, phone or skype – or indeed in person, face to face.

And now we’re going to put that me-make-meet model together with the hats concepts, and what do we find?

A totally logical, ultra-common, and massively devastating habit.

Which you can totally fix, with just a few decisions.

This devastating habit? That one thing that’s responsible for so much entrepreneurial frustration and slow growth?

Wearing the wrong hat: mixing make-time with meet-time.

In clear terms: we often wear the executive hat while we’re in meet-mode.

Even clearer: we spend too much time in our inbox, and end up doing the higher-level thinking and planning while we’re in a space created not for strategic thinking, but for communicating with people. And that’s terrible for your focus, your decisions, and your peace of mind.

Sounds familiar? Inbetween answering emails, you’re planning your activities, you jump to small tasks to check off, you stop to think for a moment in what way to plan and structure things, before you go back to answering another email…

See the problem?

When you’re in your inbox, the hat to wear should be the one of the (written) communicator. Not all the different hats, and try to wear them all at the same time.

In fact, I’d say that unless you need to communicate with people, the inbox is the last place you should spend time.

Otherwise, you very easily end up poking around in the inbox, while trying to make decisions about what to do, and when – while in a work-environment designed for something else. Easy to see that this will never work well, bring clarity, or reduce stress.

No, you use your inbox time – a sub-section of your meet-time – and you use it to communicate. From that communication will result appointments that you can then put in your calendar, and tasks that go on your todo lists.

Your calendar reminds you of appointments, your todos get done when you’re in doer-mode, and you take separate time to wear the executive-hat, the one where you stop doing stuff, and think, strategically, about what you’ll be doing when you’re wearing the other hats.

Structure your activities and your thinking that way, decide to stick with clear demarcations between the context of your work and the hats you ought to be wearing in each, and you’ll instantly experience more clarity, more focus, and more ease in getting your biz, life&mind organised.

And all from the decision to change something simple, that you probably didn’t realise was causing you sub-optimal performance.

Figuring out hacks like these is what makes coaching fun, because you always end up finding something you took for granted but that had a bigger negative effect than you thought.

Want to talk, explore, see in what way you can improve your performance and productivity, by making choices?

Let me know…



Also published on Medium.

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