What distracts you the most in the day that takes you away from getting those things on your list completed? Are you having problems managing your email effectively?
If not you’re one of the lucky few. Email addiction and inefficient handling of email some of the most common time management problems.
So let’s get focused on how to handle emails faster, more effectively and basically spend less time reading your emails and achieve the same overall outcome.
Step 1: Filter your email as much as possible. Set up smart mailboxes or separate inboxs and filter based on important messages. Unsubscribe from anything you don’t need, and the stuff you might read occasionally filter it into a folder “to read later”.
Step 2: Short replies. Reply in 3 sentences wherever possible. This decreases the amount of responses you get and significantly decreases your time in responding to emails. Emails are NOT for conversations. If you need to have a conversation schedule time for a phone call. Email should be treated more like a text message, short, sweet and to the point. Consider it an electronic post it memo!
Step 3: Educate your friends and family about sending you less emails and shorter emails! This is a hard one, but using a site like: http://www.lessemailsplease.com is very helpful. Hopefully they won’t be offended to the “See attached” short replies if they are prepared.
Step 4: Handle each email once. This means you look at the email, you decide what to do, you delete it, reply, archive, put it on your to do list, but you don’t go “oh I’ll handle that later”. This time when you procrastinate and think, “Oh yeah do it later” adds up to a significant amount of time.
Step 5: Inbox Zero. Ok this is a really hard one for a lot of people, but it’s basically the best way to accomplish Step 4. In order to make sure you handle your emails only one time, you deal with the email immediately and then you get it OUT of your inbox where it’s not staring at you any more, it’s out of your sight!
Step 6: Batch process your emails. Checking your emails dozens of times each day and handling a few emails each time is a very inefficient way to handle email. Each time you check your emails it interrupts what you were doing previously. Instead batch your emails so that you handle them at one time, perhaps setting aside 20 minutes to review all of them. Get them all completely handled and then move on to your next task.
Ok, that’s enough for today. So the next step is to go through your inbox with all these things in mind, and clear your inbox to zero.
If you’re inbox is in a terrible state (hundreds of emails you haven’t dealt with but think there might be something that need to take action on), then might need to quarantine your current inbox full of stuff you haven’t dealt with. If there really are too many emails in there, take everything out of your inbox and dump it into a “deal with later folder. Now make a commitment that whenever you check your emails, you will process all emails until you are back to zero mails in your inbox.