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Sleep Well to Reduce Business Email Overload

Friday October 20th, 2017, 9:09 am

What would you rather have – a good night’s sleep or win the lottery? Choose the former to improve your well-being and happiness (and reduce business email overload).  Sleep is now recognised as one, if not the main, contributor to our well-being. This is according to the latest survey from National Centre for Social Research. When you are rested, your self-esteem is higher, you are more relaxed and perform more effectively. This is also what sports psychologists have found when preparing sportsmen and women for big events.

What has this to do with reducing business email overload? Ironically, the blue light from those beloved mobile devices has been found to be the most significant cause of a poor night’s sleep. The two key reasons being:

  • The blue light supresses melatonin which is the hormone key to a good night’s sleep.
  • Your brain does not have a proper rest. Answering emails and checking social media makes the brain feel its needs to keep working.

Despite the growing body of research showing how checking emails etc late at night is detrimental to our well-being, the perennial comment in workshops is: ‘my colleagues/boss work in a different time zone and I need to be available’.

Stress and mental health are key areas of concern for most organisations. Business email overload and the constant distraction from digital alerts remain amongst the top ten stressors. This is due to many factors including:

  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Email/digital addiction
  • Poor organisational email culture.

During the recent Overload 2017 webinar speakers such as Lawrence Ampofo and Dan Calisata highlighted ways to create a healthier digital communications culture. For example, using mindfulness and setting boundaries outside which people are not expected to be available. You cannot change culture in isolation but you can start to influence other people’s behaviour and question theirs when they expect you to violate normality. Once you start to make improvements then is the time to collect data to use to develop a business case for changing the wider email culture (perhaps just across your division).

Doing nothing to reduce business email overload is simply not an option these days. Not only will it ultimately damage your personal health it will deter others from working in the organisation and especially ‘Millenials’ and ‘Snowflakes’. Both expect more life-work balanced organisations. They do not see a job for life and if the organisational culture does not suit they will move elsewhere.

Here are seven ways to improve the quality of your sleep – yet stay on top of your inbox and reduce business email overload.

  1. Set boundaries outside which you do not deal with work emails.
  2. Use your Out of Office Message if needs be to manage sender expectations.
  3. Switch off at least one hour before going to bed.
  4. Leave all digital devices outside the bedroom.
  5. Keep pen and paper by the bed if you need to make notes (for example your mind is churning with things to do tomorrow).
  6. Use a conventional alarm clock rather than the one on your digital device.
  7. Read a conventional paper-based book rather than e-book.

It can be hard to switch off, one way is to start by creating digital-free time during the day.  For example, at meal times and whilst shopping. Then build-up so that ultimately you have a digital-free day over the weekends.

Other resources to help you include:

If you (or your team) need more help reducing business email overload whilst improving well-being and productivity, email or phone us  now.

What are your top tips for improving the quality of your sleep?

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