Changing poor productivity habits

Changing poor productivity habits

Dixie Sanner writes an article in the Washington Business Journal called Time Smart: Too busy? Trick is habit (re) forming.  (See it at  In it, she outlines a 5-step process in changing your habits:

1.      Pinpoint the habit you want to change and analyze it.


2.      Describe what you’d like to do instead

3.      Develop a new routine that will help your new habit take root

4.      Be consistent

5.      Ask for help

All really good advice.  But the article doesn’t do much to give you specific ideas on new routines (step 3).  If we really want to be “Time Smart,” which habits should we change?  Perhaps the article should have focused on one specific bad habit and walked us through the process.  So let’s explore some ourselves. 

1.      The habit you want to change is to stop re-reading email and be more decisive.  You feel you are constantly checking, reading, re-reading, and re-reading your email.  ‘

2.      Instead, you’d like to practice the Superglue Rule. The first time you read an email in your in-box, you must make a decision (one of six decisions, in #3 below) on what to do with the email rather than clicking out of it and keeping it in your in-box.  You would like to get down to 0 emails once a day (you didn’t necessarily do the work; you just moved the email to the right place).

3.      Your new routine would be every time you click on a new email, pretend it has virtual superglue on it. It’s now stuck to your screen, and you cannot close the email until you do one of six things with it: a technique I call the six “Ds”: a) Delete, b) Delegate, 3) Do, 4) Date, 5) Drawer, 6) Deter

4.      You can’t save it in your in-box; you must be decisive about where it goes. If this helps, remember “Ohio”–Only Handle It Once.  You are either going to delete it, forward it, reply to it, and move it to Tasks (or print and file in a tickler file), file it in a personal folder, or use a rule to move the mail or unsubscribe. 

5.      Team up with a buddy at work who will be your accountability partner.  That person will ask you once a day what your in-box looks like.

Limit yourself to the options, force yourself to stop, think, and make one of the six choices.