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3 Steps To Being Proactive With Your Time, Instead Of Reactive Stop, Drop and Roll – the secret to managing your inbox before you open your emails and derail your day.

By Shelley Walters

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If you're at all like me, from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, your mind starts filling up with everything that's expected of you that day.

These thoughts are probably a mix of personal and professional, of duties and opportunities, of tasks and errands. With every minute that passes, that list gets longer: Who to call, what to set up, what to complete.

Why we never get anything done

Here's the problem. While you're gyming, dressing and even commuting you're adding to the list. And then you arrive at the office, seat yourself at your desk and open your inbox. And that to-do list in your head all but vanishes.

A long list of priority "to-dos' dissolves into what's immediately in front of you. Emails have the magical ability to demand your attention right now.

By the time you shut down for the day and leave your desk, that list has rolled over, again, into tomorrow – a cycle that is likely to keep repeating itself.

This problem is more serious than you think because, when your head is not clear, you're not creative or strategic, which is where you need and want to be. Creative and strategic ideas drive business growth. Operational tasks do not.

Sound familiar?

Stop, drop and roll

If, like me, this has become the norm, you may find this technique useful. Let me share with you a simple morning routine that I practice to ensure that I am able to function at my best. No matter where I am in the world, or how much pressure I am under when I get to my desk, I always do these three things: I STOP. I DROP. I ROLL

I Stop

I don't open my laptop. I don't get on my phone. I sit quietly for a minute and close my eyes to think. I become aware of my thoughts. The creative and strategic thoughts, as well as more mundane thoughts.

I Drop

My keyboard rests on an A3 planner (but you can use any journal-related media you prefer). I take those ideas floating around in my head and I drop them onto my blank sheet.

I jot it all down: The appointments, the social commitments, the projects that are due, the financial follow-ups that must be made, the orders and shopping lists for goods, birthdays and anniversaries. Everything.

Then I throw away the sheet of paper (the information is all in my Inbox, I don't need notes).

And then I roll

Straight into my day. I begin by allocating time in my calendar for each task, either as a calendar event (preferable) or as a task (second prize). This is crucial because the moment I open myself up to the emails, WhatsApp and other communication that comes at me externally, I risk the self-directed strategic and creative thoughts and activities that are essential to me doing my best work.

If I'm not self-directed and productive, I find myself pulled in every direction other than the one I want to go in. That's it. Stop (think), drop (your thoughts down), and roll (implement your plan).

Shelley Walters is the founder of The Sales Counsel, an organisation focused on re-engaging the hearts and the minds of salespeople, entrepreneurs and business owners everywhere.  She’s a sought-after keynote speaker, having spoken at over 450 conferences in 10 countries, with her most recent international engagement being the Women in Sales Awards in Europe. Visit

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