|1. not urgent||21. B|
|2. reduce||22. A|
|3. significant proportion||23. A|
|4. delete the email||24. B|
|5. further action||25. peace of mind|
|6. future reference||26. feeling valued|
|7. pending work||27. freedom to choose|
|8. do it now||28. 67%|
|9. junior colleague||29. sports and hobbies|
|10. clear deadline||30. 58%|
|11. C||31. household tasks|
|12. B||32. generally avoided|
|13. A||33. case studies|
|14. awh1163||34. exact aim|
|15. 07894 734556||35. multiple choice|
|16. six weeks||36. A, C, E|
|17. folk||37. A, C, E|
|18. Theatre Society||38. A, C, E|
|19. 1 adult||39. C, E|
|20. £3.50||40. C, E|
|Level||Band||Listening Score||Reading Score|
Legend: Academic word (?) New word
Let's now consider what you should do when a new email arrives in your inbox at work. It's useful to know that like all tasks, emails can be classified into four groups depending on their importance and the urgency with which they need to be dealt. Remember that an important email may not be urgent enough to be dealt with immediately. Similarly, an email which needs to be dealt with promptly might not be particularly important. There are of course emails that are important and require immediate attention but. by managing your inbox effectively you should be able to reduce the number of these significantly. The final group is the emails that are neither important nor urgent, which can account for a significant proportion of your inbox.
The first thing you need to consider when a new email arrives is whether the email is important or not. You may be surprised that around half of all emails we receive have no importance and require no further action . If this is the case, than it is safe to delete the email .
However, if you have decided that yes, the email is important, then several outcomes are possible. The next question to ask yourself is, does the email require further action? Some important emails may not need a response so you may decide that, whilst it contains important information, no further action is necessary. In this case, the email should be filed in a folder for future reference only.
Having decided that the email does require attention, it is now that you need to consider the urgency of the response.
If you deem the email to be non-urgent it should be placed in a folder for pending work , that is awaiting attention in the short term.
However, if it requires prompt attention, you now need to consider how long the task will take. If it is something that will take a matter of minutes, then of course the simple solution is to do it now . It could be just a simple matter of sending off a quick reply to the email. That'll be one more thing ticked off your to-do list. However, if it is a task that requires more time, you need to ask yourself if you’re the only person capable of accomplishing the task. If the answer is no, then see if there is a junior colleague to whom you can delegate some or all of the task. If you decide the job must be completed by you alone, then this is where you start planning your course of action. This should include making a note in your diary or organizer and giving yourself a clear deadline for the task completion. It might also involve making appointments, arranging meetings and so on.
So, to sum up, managing your inbox does require some thought and effort but believe me, it's well worth it.
Alan: Look Caroline. I picked up this leaflet in the library today. It’s about a family arts festival they’re holding in Eastfield in July. It looks really good.
Caroline: Oh, that must be the thing Jane was telling me about - it takes place every other year apparently and it attracts thousands of people from the local area - she said It’s really worth going to.
Alan: Yes, this must be it. Look, there’s loads of different things on.
Caroline Let’s see - lots of different types of music, dance, comedy, theatre, cinema - whatever you fancy really - yes you’re right, there’s a huge variety.
Alan Do you think there's enough to keep the kids happy?
Caroline Well it’s supposed to be a family festival. Look there’s storytelling for kids, circus skills, puppet shows, all sorts of things for them,
Alan: So, what do you think? Shall we all go and take the kids?
Caroline: I think it’s a great idea. How much are the tickets?
Alan: Well, I don’t think you can get an all-inclusive ticket - it says here you pay separately for each different event you choose to go to, but it advises you to book in advance for the most popular shows like the headline music acts. You can’t just turn up and get tickets on the day.
Caroline: So, we need to have a look at the programme and decide which ones to book.
Caroline: OK. so I've got the booking form. Shall I put your name down?
Alan: Yes. that's probably easier.
Caroline: OK. so, Name: Alan Hardy. I can never remember your email address.
Alan: It’s awh1163 @mailgroup.com
Caroline: [email protected] .
And which telephone number shall I put down?
Alan: My mobile is probably better - you can’t remember that either can you?
It’s 07894 734556 . Don’t they wa nt our address?
Caroline: No, I think it's all done electronically, which is good.
Alan: What about the tickets? Do we pick them up on the door?
Caroline: No. it says here that they’ll email the ti ckets six weeks before the event.
Alan: Which events do you fancy going to?
Caroline: Well. I must say it’s quite hard to choose but something I definitely want to see is the folk group The Stags,
Alan: Yes. they're the headline act on the first night. What do you know about them?
Caroline: Well, they're a big group, 11 or 12 members, and they do a mixture of traditional and modem folk music. They play lots of different instruments - they’re supposed to be fantastic live and it’s suitable for kids too. The tickets are £8.50 but I think there are reductions for children. Alan: So, I’ll put down for four tickets for all of us, 2 adults. 2 children. What else?
Caroline: Well, l thought the production of Robin Hood on the Saturday afternoon might be worth going to. It's by the Eastfield Theatre Society and I’ve heard they’re very good.
Alan: But that clashes with Gordon Hayburn - I really wanted to see him.
Caroline: Oh. he’s that singer songwriter you like, isn’t he?
Alan: Yes - I’m really keen to see him - he’s fantastic.
Caroline: I'll tell you what - I’ll take the children to see Robin Hood and you can go to see Gordon.
Alan: Are you sure?
Caroline: Yes. I'm not too keen on his style of music and the children would enjoy the play.
Alan: So I’ll put down 1 adult and 2 kids for Robin Hood. The tickets are only £5 for that. And we’ll have one ticket for Gordon. He’s a bit more - £7.50 each but he’s worth it. I’ve been wanting to see him live for ages.
Caroline: Great. What about the Sunday? 1 think it might be nice to see the Irish Drumming group. Crash.
Alan: Yes, they look good but I don’t think 1 can book anything for Sunday. It's my mum’s birthday remember and I should really spend the day with her.
Caroline: Do you mind if I get tickets for me and the kids?
Alan: Not at all - go ahead. I’ll put all three of you down. The tickets are only £3.50 - that sounds like good value.
Caroline: It’s a shame we can't go to more events but I’m sure there’ll be lots of other things on at the venues.
Alan: Yes. Well, I’ll get this sent off today, shall I?
Isabelle: So, Rob, what do you think about your essay title?
Rob: ‘Money is not the only measure of success in life'... Mmm, I don’t feel very inspired somehow. I'm struggling with ideas at the moment. What do you think, Ed?
Ed : Well, there’s certainly plenty you can say on the topic but it’s evidence and examples to back up your argument that they're looking for - have you got any?
Isabelle: I’m sure there must be plenty - even from your own life experiences. You must know some successful people who aren’t necessarily wealthy, Rob?
Rob: I suppose so. I mean, you can be successful but that doesn't always mean you are fantastically paid. Take nurses, for example - they aren’t paid well but do a very worthwhile job. You can't say they're not successful, can you?
Ed : That’s true. But with many jobs good pay does equal success - most top businessmen and bankers get really high salaries and what about top sportsmen and women? Some footballers earn a fortune.
Rob: Yes, but that doesn’t mean success always equals money. There are plenty of examples to disprove that claim, I think.
Isabelle: Yes, what about all the people who do things for no pay at all - volunteers and people who do things for charity? A friend of my mother's has been volunteering at a local youth group for years. She works full-time too but isn’t well-off and she puts in hours of her free time every week. I would definitely say she’s a success. I think you should be able to measure someone's success by what they give back to society.
Ed : I don’t think it's the only way to be successful though. There are different types of success I suppose. Material success is certainly one of the most obvious tangible ways of judging success. If someone owns a big house and drives a fast car, you automatically assume they’re successful.
Rob: But they might not have earned that money. It could be inherited or won in the lottery.
Isabelle: Or stolen!
Rob: Exactly! Not all rich people have earned or even deserve their wealth so can you say they’re successful?
Ed : What about stars and singers then? Most of them are rich and successful.
Isabelle: And all extremely talented! Mmm. Some famous people just rely on good looks or luck to get them where they are. And there are some very gifted actors who never get to Hollywood and make millions of dollars. Does that mean they’re not successful?
Ed : I think we’re forgetting something important. What about academic achievement and success? That’s got nothing to do with wealth.
Isabelle: But it has - if you do well at school and university, you're more likely to go on to get a well-paid job later in life.
Ed : Yes, but my point is that you can be a success at a young age through what you do at school. And, although that may have a bearing on what happens later in your life, at that stage it’s not about money, is it?
Isabelle: I suppose not. And nowadays academic achievement is no guarantee to finding a good job anyway - so many graduates seem to struggle to find work. And not everyone studies in order to improve their career chances. Some people just do it for pleasure.
Rob Absolutely - or to add to their skills and knowledge and improve themselves as individuals. It's true not everyone
views academic study as a pathway to a money-making career. I have a fnend who’s recently finished a Master's degree and now wants to do a PhD and for him, it’s all about his passion for his subject I don’t think he’s even thought about what he’ll do at the end of it all.
Ed : And it's not just academic success either. There are all sorts of other things you can be successful at that don’t necessarily bring you wealth. What about sporting achievements and music?
Isabelle: Mm, and success in your personal life - your family - that's so important to many people. You know what they say: money can't bring you happiness. I know lots of people who would rather be in a happy, fulfilling relationship than be rolling in money.
Ed : I'd like both!
Isabelle: Well, ideally I suppose most people would. But seriously, there's enough evidence to prove the theory wrong, don’t you think?
Isabelle: So, how are you getting on with your essay Rob?
Rob: Really well, actually. I’ve almost finished and I’m quite pleased with it. I just need to write the conclusion and tidy things up a bit.
Isabelle: Great! So you found enough to talk about then?
Rob: Too much really. I found quite a few articles that really helped me and I even found a national survey which was carried out last year to see what ordinary people think about success. I’ve included some of the results in my survey. It's quite interesting really - have a look.
Isabelle: Oh, do you mean this chart?
Rob: Yes. The people in the survey were asked to rank the things they considered to be the most important indicators of success for them and as you can see it seems that, in general, most people are more concerned with other things than possessions and riches. You can see that by far the most popular factor was a happy family life.
Isabelle: 82%. Yes, that is high. What came next?
Rob: I was quite surprised but health and peace of mind was quite close behind. I hadn’t really considered that to be a factor in personal success,
Isabelle: I don’t think it’s that surprising when you think about it. Particularly as you get older, you have more responsibilities and worries about jobs, health and family. Even if you’re successful it’s difficult to appreciate it if you're in poor health or are constantly stressed or worried about something.
Rob: Job satisfaction comes quite high - 73%. Well, that's no surprise - it’s great if you love your job and find it rewarding.
I can’t imagine feeling a success if you hate what you do. And after that came, feeling valued . That’s an interesting one.
Isabelle: Is that at work?
Rob: Both work and home, I think.
Isabelle: I can understand that; it's always good to feel appreciated for something you’ve done and share your successes. What's the first thing you do as a child when you get a good mark or achieve something at school?
Rob: Run home and tell your parents!
Yes, I agree, being praised and respected for what you do, whether it’s by family, friends, colleagues or your boss, is always a good feeling. Next on the list has a score of 69%: freedom to choose .
Isabelle: What does that mean exactly?
Rob: I think it’s to do with having freedom to be able to decide what you do with your life, to choose whether to work from home, or be self-employed. Whether to work long hours or take a day off work. I suppose the more successful you are, the more freedom you're likely to have.
Isabelle: I can see that owning your own home, car and other possessions does come quite high - 67% - but not as high as I thought it might. I expected it to be in the eighties or nineties! But that means 33% of people don’t consider material wealth to be an important sign of success.
Rob: I think it’s interesting that even things like achievements outside work were quite close behind - 62% said these were important.
Isabelle: Is that things like sports and hobbies ?
Rob: Yes. well, we talked about that, didn’t we? I think doing something like singing in a concert or running in a marathon can give someone a great sense of personal achievement.
Isabelle: I’m surprised that the last one doesn't get a higher score: academic and professional qualifications and achievements. I would have thought that these are important to people but only 58% seem to agree - that’s more than 40% who don’t seem to consider success in education and work important.
1 wonder why.
Rob: Maybe they become less important as you get older and not everyone is concerned with academic success. Remember this survey spoke to a cross- section of society - people of all ages and backgrounds.
Isabelle: Well, these survey results will have made your essay interesting. Well done for finding them.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m very good at putting off all those little everyday tasks until the last possible moment.
And it seems this procrastination is more widespread than you might think. According to research carried out at Whitehall University last year, almost nine out of ten British people postpone doing certain household tasks until the last possible moment. This figure got me wondering whether it might also be the case that people avoid doing things in their professional or academic lives too. So, today I’m going to talk to you about some research I’ve been involved in into procrastination, or to put it simply, putting off something that you should be doing now until a later date. This study is linked to the research being undertaken here in the Psychology department on Time Efficiency.
The main purpose of the study was to see how far procrastination affects our everyday lives, both at work and study and at home. It also aimed to identify any common characteristics of serial procrastinators and find out what type of tasks are generally avoided .
So, let’s start by looking at how the research was conducted. The first stage involved conducting case studies of 12 people from different walks of life, including full- and part-time students, working and stay-at-home parents, professional and blue-collar workers.
The case studies involved asking the subjects to complete a log of tasks and duties performed over a week, including recording details of letters and emails they received during that period. At the end of each day they were asked to record which tasks they had started or completed and which were still to do.
By the way, before the study began, the subjects were told that the research was into workloads and time availability so that at no time during the week's study were any of them aware of the exact aim of the research as it was felt that this might distort the results. At the end of the week the subjects were interviewed in full and the results were analysed.
For the second stage of the research we devised a questionnaire for a cross- section of the population, to find out what type of tasks they avoid doing and for what reasons. The questionnaire contained 16 multiple-choice questions and in total, 80 people were interviewed face-to-face and 20 more completed the questionnaire by email. The results were collated and analysed and these will be discussed a little later.
Moving on to the findings then, and not surprisingly, all 12 subjects showed some degree of task postponement, with over half, that’s 7 out of the 12, showing a high degree of procrastination. The results of the survey showed a similar story with an incredible 87% of respondents admitting to some sort of task avoidance at some point, although there were obvious differences in the degree to which respondents delayed tasks.
The two areas of work that were most commonly avoided were at home rather than work or study; DIY jobs head the list, closely followed by domestic admin, er, that’s things like household bills and correspondence. Close behind were domestic chores, with ironing and cleaning being the least popular household tasks. Not surprisingly, this task avoidance seemed more prevalent if the undertaking involved a deadline that was still some way off, rather than an urgent one. Typical examples of such tasks were; responding to non-urgent emails, paying bills, and starting assignments, which I'm sure many of you can relate to. As the deadline for a task approached, motivation to complete the task generally increased. What is interesting to note is that the majority of the subjects did not postpone tasks in order to do something more urgent or important. In fact, most appeared to delay starting the jobs in favour of unimportant or non-essential tasks such as having a coffee, a chat on the phone or tidying a desk, Could it be then that the nature of the postponed tasks holds the key
to their delay? Indeed, it seems that the more disagreeable the task seems to the performer, the higher the degree of procrastination involved. More enjoyable and satisfying tasks, like choosing new curtains for the house or replying to emails from friends were generally performed without much delay.
When an analysis of different groups was conducted, It was found that there was no obvious difference between age groups or genders; it seems that you either are a procrastinator or you're not, with age and gender having little relevance, Neither was there a clear link between hours worked or studied and levels of task avoidance. However, there did seem to be one clear distinction and this was between respondents who could be classed as high achievers, erm, that is those with higher-level qualifications and in professional and managerial positions. These people generally seemed to have a lesser degree of procrastination than those with fewer academic qualifications or in more basic or unskilled jobs.
When asked why they avoided tasks, the most widely given answer was lack of time, lack of motivation and particularly where DIY is concerned, lack of skill or confidence to get the job done. The more confident we feel about the task, the less likely we are to procrastinate. But the more we lack confidence in our ability to complete a task, the greater the likelihood is of avoiding it altogether. Respondents to the survey also cited forgetfulness and being easily distracted by other tasks as the reason for avoiding jobs. Another popular reason was not having the self- discipline or will-power, a characteristic often seen in those who find it difficult to lose weight or give up smoking. Indeed, some respondents talked about putting off starting a diet as an example of their procrastination habits.
So, what do these results tell us? The one thing that seems abundantly clear is that, for whatever reason, the vast majority of us have a tendency to procrastinate. Our findings do highlight some general characteristics of procrastinators and the type of tasks avoided.