Changing your habits

Since the start of January, Think Productive UK founder Graham Allcott has only been accessing his emails on a Friday. 

This is part of a series of productivity experiments throughout 2013.

As we reach the end of the month – Graham explores how his email habits have changed.

In order to improve your productivity and achieve a more balanced life, you have to change your habits.  Changing your habits is harder than you think: if it was so easy, we’d all be living perfect lives right now!

What I’ve learned myself this month with my Email Friday experiment is that changing my habit has been done in 3 key stages:


Realising something could be better, not having a clear idea of what, but allowing myself to experiment


For my email Fridays experiment, I’ve noticed my attention increasing, my volume of email going down, but also my twitching and pining for digital distractions instead of just being present, enjoying the moment or doing something more useful than sending another email.


My resolve is to do things differently in future.  My exact plan around this may change, but here’s how it looks right now:

a. Move to 2 periods of email per week.  Whilst one has been liberating, there have also been consequences.  Whereas two periods a week will allow my response rate to people to always be no longer than 2 days, which I’m comfortable with.

b. I will NOT return to having email on my phone.  I am writing this blog post on a train journey with no access to email.  This blog post and many other useful bits of work would never have happened if I had email scanning to fall back on.  Email processing is much quicker and more productive for me on a computer than on a phone.

c. I will pick up the phone more often.  This has been a surprising lesson for me: how out of the habit of picking up the phone I – and most of the rest of the world! – has become!  The phone brings a human connection often missed by email, and whilst may take a few moments longer than an email, still often produces better results.

There are a few other changes I’m making too, but the point is this: extremities bring learning which in turn brings change.  And changing your habits – whilst tough – is both possible and liberating.

Like this? Try these

Inspired to tackle your inbox? Try some of our email training 

Five “good habits” you need to unlearn –

Emails piling up? It’s time to ‘be ruthless –

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