How to digitally declutter your always-on work life

Business women hand are using cell phones in office
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Georgia Duffee
Managing director and accountant
Benedetto Accounts & Tax
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Drawing the line between the ease of access to technology and not switching off is becoming ever more difficult, resulting in many slipping into the always-on culture. So how do you digitally declutter?

Technology is a powerful tool when we control it, rather than the other way round. However it can also be a source of procrastination, mental drain, bad night’s sleep, distraction and the list goes on. 

As we enter the digital age of accountancy, make sure you are taking the steps you need to ensure you are still in control of your working day.

The first way to switch off is to declutter your digital life. One of my favourite productivity books 'Eat that Frog' by Brian Tracy once highlighted how overwhelming our emails can seem. However, not all of them require our attention. 

Digital declutter

Firstly, unsubscribe from all marketing emails which are of no interest to you. This may take a while, but it makes a huge difference to the size and importance of your inbox.

This could be something you delegate to a secretary or virtual assistant. If you have too many marketing emails to sieve through, delete every marketing email currently in your inbox, and when they come through again manage them individually and unsubscribe when they arrive.

Digital boundaries

Secondly, allow windows in your day where you are not checking your emails. I currently have two windows per day where I check emails. This is between 1pm and 3pm and then after 6pm.

I have an instant reply which goes out when a client emails to let them know that we check emails twice a day, so they know when they will hear back from us. This gives both myself and our clients peace of mind and control over email management and maintaining client expectation.

Easier said than done?

It is very easy to say “allow two windows a day”. However, how do you resist checking your phone when it goes off to notify you of activity on an app or email?

A client of mine recently said one of her best productivity hacks is to turn off all notifications on her mobile phone. I followed suit instantly. My working day changed immediately, I was no longer being distracted by emails, texts or messages from clients, or marketing.

This means you can work distraction-free. Then when you do have the time to check your emails, texts, WhatsApp or social media you can, and it has been your choice and under your control. 

Try to have two phones: one for work, one for personal. So when you are out with family or friends, you are not distracted by work.

These steps have really helped my productivity as I am active on social media channels and the notifications received on there are particularly unimportant during working hours but very distracting. 

About Georgia Duffee

Georgia Duffee

Georgia Duffee formed her company Benedetto Accounts & Tax in 2016 when she was 21. 

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31st Jul 2019 09:40

I do agree that there are many distractions that can impede workflow, but i’m just not personally convinced by the checking emails only once during the working day.
I would prefer to know what the clients query is, how that query is going to affect my workflow (ie how long will it take) and respond accordingly, either addressing the query immediately or telling them it will be sorted tomorrow etc.
Is it not the digital equivalent of a partner saying that their door is closed to staff and clients for the majority of the day, but by all means everyone queue up at 3pm by which time we’re 6 hours into the working day with less than 2 to go. Wouldn’t that be considered bad people/client management?

One other thought, you say you’re active on social media, presumably not during working hours though because if i’m Sending a client an auto-reply saying i’m Busy and only check emails once during working hours then they see me posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Insta etc etc then they wouldn't Be impressed.

Not knocking your approach, it clearly seems to work for you, and most probably other younger (and some older) practitioners, we all have different work environments, family and lifestyle commitments, types and number of clients, staffing, office and practice calls on our time. It’s interesting hearing the challenges that others have, and how that compares to our own, there’s quite a variety.

Definitely agree regarding the marketing emails, an unsubscribing job is certainly on the cards.

Well done for setting up a practice so young, I was 32 when I became a partner and 34 when I setup on my own. An ‘oldie’ in comparison to you.

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to Sheepy306
04th Aug 2019 21:04

Hello Sheepy306,

Thanks for your post!

Let me know how it goes unsubscribing to all the marketing emails! There are so many which come through daily, but a clear inbox feels so fulfilling! Once you're on top of the marketing emails, they're much more manageable to review and unsubscribe when they arrive.

You're definitely right with regards to the email window, we all have different commitments, environments, and time constraints, so it's imperative to complete a "time-audit" and decide upon an email management system that works for you.

When maintaining social media - I schedule my posts using a social media manager. We schedule a whole month's worth of social media in one go. This means we don't have to log into social media daily to update posts etc. There is a free social media manager, hootsuite, you may want to know the link: https://hootsuite.com/create-free-account. On this link you can set up social media posts for three accounts.

Thanks once again for your post.

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