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Shifting from The Culture of Now to When

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Maintaining a healthy rhythm between work and life is difficult when your workplace has an addiction to what I call the culture of now. When someone has a question for you, they want an answer now.
When you send an email, you want an answer now. When someone calls you, they want you to call them back now. This addiction to now is counter-productive. Expecting yourself to do multiple things at the same time increases mistakes, stress, and ironically, lost time. It's more productive to move to a culture of when. This means that whenever someone asks for something, we say, "When would you like me to get it to you?" Have a conversation as a team, and explore when is a reasonable response time to email and chat messages. Even if someone reaches your voice mail, rather than saying, "I'll return your call as soon as possible," provide a when to manage expectations, like, "I typically return my calls within three business hours." Help those you work with become conditioned to the idea that everything has a when associated with it. One tool to manage this is to establish quick, recurring meetings to ask and answer questions. This reduces the little quick questions that chop up your productivity. Instead, ask the person if they can meet at a consistent time each day or week, and then, when the quick question comes in, encourage the culture of when by asking, "Can this wait until our check-in time?" If it's a true emergency, then of course, help them, but I've found that what most people think of as emergencies are actually impatiencies. Shifting to a culture of when reduces that feeling, and restores balance to your day. Pause for a moment, and consider, what's one small step to help those you work with transition to a culture of when?

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