June 20, 2015

Back from Vacation, Rethinking Email, and Tackling Real-World Sales Issues

I returned from our family vacation and my annual e-sabbatical to a packed calendar, a long to-do list, and some intense client meetings. Like many of you have experienced, after a few days back to work, I began to wonder how long the benefits and battery recharging from vacation would last!

For those who regularly follow this blog, thank you for your patience as this post is long overdue. Instead of writing on one topic, I thought it might be more interesting to reflect back on the vacation (completely unplugged), and also share the real-world sales issues we’re addressing with the five corporate clients I met with the past couple weeks.

Vacation Reflections:  We cruised the Eastern Caribbean on a popular cruise line with another family who are good friends. Was our first family cruise and we had a very nice time. For me, the highlight was the time spent alone on a very top deck as we departed St. Thomas (pictured above). Unfortunately, that was a rare moment of peace, quiet, gratefulness and reflection. Don’t get me wrong; the cruise was great. Everything surpassed my expectations – the food, entertainment, and staff were all better than predicted. We enjoyed our friends and family dinners and double desserts were a highlight for sure. But sailing with 3500 new “friends,” waiting in lines for food, a hot tub, and to get off and on the ship at ports caused me to question whether I’d want to do it again.

On the plus side, it was energizing and freeing to be completely disconnected from everything for eight days. A break from social media was a needed relief, and staying off of email was life-giving! It forced me to think about the big picture instead of urgent projects and immediate client needs. Most of my thoughts went toward personal and business goals, and my father’s expression – “this is not practice; this is your life” kept running through my mind. It was powerful.

Here’s my question/challenge for you: How much would you benefit by completely unplugging from work and email when on vacation? Wouldn’t you come back with bigger and better thoughts about how to tackle the business? Wouldn’t it be great to let your mind have the free space to play with new ideas instead of being trapped dealing with the same day-to-day crap it does when you’re working? Email has got to be the biggest brain drain and time-sucker in our lives. At least it is in mine. I came home from vacation more committed than ever to changing how I interact with it.

I just reread what’s in this post so far and it caused me to change my plan. Instead of junking it up with the five client issues I mentioned above, let’s end with some strong words about being in bondage to email. Here are some follow-up questions to further drive home the point. And I promise to write again very soon about those real-world sales issues I’m tackling with clients.

  • How long are you awake in the morning before you check email? Do you even get out of bed first? Does your inbox drive how you spend those precious early morning hours?
  • Do you leave your email program open all day? Does your computer or phone make a sound or alert you every time you get an email? (You are aware those settings can be turned off, right?)
  • Have you considered the possibility that just because you can be connected 24/7 that doesn’t mean you should be?
  • What might happen to your productivity if you stayed off of email for a few time-blocks per day to focus on high-value, high-payoff activity without being distracted or interrupted?
  • Salespeople, have you given up on being proactive and intentional about where you invest your selling time and now live simply in reactive mode responding to customers and issues that come your way?