According to CNBC, the average American worker spends 5 hours a day managing email: reading, responding, sorting, deleting messages. That breaks down into approximately 3-4 hours checking business-related email and one hour managing personal email. Add to that tally the daily distraction from social media, instant messengers, text messages and telephone calls, and accountants may find little work accomplished at the end of their workday—except a clean, organized in-box.
With so many messages flooding our screens each day, is there a better way to manage the typical digital distractions inherent in the modern work world? The following tips may be useful to help you manage the daily electronic communications flow that threatens to engulf your day.
5 Tips to Manage Digital Distractions
- Turn off notifications
The first step to manage distractions is to minimize them. This includes turning off the sounds and on-screen notifications that often accompany many instant messenger programs. Most of us do not need to be notified of every single message arriving in our inbox, nor do we need notifications for instant messages.
Turning off notifications varies according to your device. This article provides basic guidelines to disable notifications on most operating systems.
- Set aside blocks of time for specific purposes
One way to handle email more efficiently is to set aside blocks of time specifically for responding to emails. Keep your email program closed until it is time to log on. This helps you avoid the temptation to check email repeatedly during the day. Let colleagues know that if something is urgent, they should phone you instead of emailing you.
- Utilize email filters
Email filters go beyond the typical spam filters which sort out unwanted email from business emails. Again, depending on your email system, you may be able to establish rules that presort email into categories you determine. You may be able to organize your daily emails more efficiently by project, type of communication, or urgency of task, depending on the rules you set up in the system itself. Speak with your company’s IT person to learn more or search online for tips establishing and using email filters for common email managers such as Gmail and Outlook.
- Adopt calendar apps
Are half of your emails requests for meetings? Many people find that most of their emails are indeed meeting requests or requests for blocks of time with which to meet others. Instead of responding to dozens of requests a day, your company can adopt calendar apps or shared calendars.
Calendar apps such as Calendly enable clients to request call times without viewing your calendar. The app synchronizes with your chosen digital calendar and displays only blocks of time available for meetings. The other party can request and secure a time without having to email you in advance. Other software such as Microsoft 365’s Teams enables users to view one another’s calendars without seeing engagement details and requesting meeting time.
- Establish communication preferences and timelines
Alert colleagues to your communication preferences. Limit the number of instant messenger apps your company uses and establish preferred communication channels and methods for your team. Lastly, establish clear expectations around response timelines. For example, let clients and colleagues know that emails are answered within one business day. This way, people know that if they require an instant response, they should pick up the phone and call you.
Cloud Software Helps Improve Communication
Whether you’re struggling with too many emails and not enough time or instant messenger overload, one thing that helps cut down the endless barrage of digital communications is cloud-based technology. Sharing financial data over the cloud, as well as collaborating on documents in the cloud, improves communication and cuts down on emailing documents back and forth.
With a few changes to your routine and habits and support from the right software, you’ll be able to better manage your digital communications and stop the feeling of being overwhelmed.
About Welter Consulting
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.