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3 minute read

In a corner of fairgrounds and amusement parks around the world there is a game of ‘whack-a-mole’ gathering dust because  it hasn’t been used since late March 2020, when everything suddenly changed.

But the game will have its day once again. There will come a time in the not too distant future when those fairs are full of people laughing and joking together whilst frantically trying to smash the moles back into the holes as they pop their cheeky little heads out.

Why am I talking about Whack-a-Mole?

Because it’s a great analogy for how many of us work, lead…and manage our emails.

In a world where we are bombarded with so much information, so many emails and a schedule full of virtual meetings it can feel as though work is a like a never-ending game of ‘whack-a-mole’.

As emails come, in we furiously tap out a reply or forward them on to a team member or colleague with a hastily typed covering note. But it can easily feel as though we’re trying to plug holes in a leaky ship, because as soon as we reply to one message, another five come in.

But what impact does this really have on us and our team?

Is this really an effective strategy?

And are we just busy being busy?

Picture the scene.  You have 60 minutes to spare between two long Zoom meetings that have pretty much taken up your entire day.  You have loads on your to-do list, not to mention juggling home-schooling, and you feel that the last three hours in that meeting really wasn’t a good use of your time.

You need to make progress.  You need some momentum.

So without stepping back to clear your head and think, you fire off a few emails to your team delegating some tasks.

You quickly ask someone to follow up on an action from the last meeting.  You then hastily reply to an email from a team member and forward another to someone else asking them to deal with the latest request that landed on your desk.

A week later you find yourself frustrated that the first task hasn’t been completed yet, and the second isn’t to the standard you wanted. As to the third, well you don’t even know where to begin.  You just can’t believe what you’ve been given is so far from what you wanted!

The stress levels begin to rise along with our frustration, and we blame our team.  But is it really our team who are to blame?

Slowing down to speed up

The most effective way to achieve progress and momentum isn’t through speed of action.  It’s through slowing down in order to speed up.  It’s about being effective instead of simply being efficient.

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Peter Drucker

Take a breath.  Slow down.  Make a considered plan and see what amazing results you achieve.

An alternative to the scenario above could be to take 10 minutes to step outside, stretch you legs and get some fresh air. This will allow your mind to settle.

And as your mind settles, it will process the information from that last meeting and you’ll be able to prioritise what else you need to achieve in the day.

You can then check your emails in a calmer, less frenetic state and send some clear, well-considered replies to your team. Which in turn will most likely provide them with the clarity to do what you want them to do. And as a result, they won’t need to send you five follow up emails to decipher the confused initial instructions that you gave then in your hastily typed email.

This is no miracle cure to ‘Corporate Whack Attack’, but it will pay dividends if you stick with it.

You can find more strategies for overcoming Corporate Whack Attack in my new online programme – Personal Leadership Mastery.

Stay safe, stay well and #LeadOn


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