I have been getting a lot questions lately about email. So, I decided to put this together for you.
Of course, having a system for processing email will save you time. But having a system is about more than just saving time! By adopting a routine you will
- increase your chances of acting on what is important to you.
- screen out what is not important, so that you can spend your time in ways that you value.
- respond in a timely manner so that you can take advantage of opportunities.
- be seen as a reliable and professional, if that is what you want.
Set aside time
Email can be one of the biggest time suckers, if you let it. Deciding when and how you respond to email can put you back in charge.
If you are in front of you computer during the day, try turning off your email when you want to focus your attention on a task. At the very least, turn off the notification option.
Resistant to this idea? We are so used to instant communication that it may be hard to consider this option. What if you had snail mailing interrupting you in the same way? It doesn’t though because it only comes once a day. And you retrieve when you want.
You can also control when you receive email. Depending on your needs, choose 1-4 times during the day when you will check and respond to email. Depending on how much email you receive, schedule one time during the day when you have enough time to follow the step by step system below.
This step by step system is one that I use and recommend to my clients. If you have other methods, please share.
Step 1. Delete obvious junk mail.
Step 2. Unsubscribe to reoccurring mail that you never look at it. Why keep getting it and letting it clutter you inbox?
Step 3. Email that contains information for an scheduled event:
- Put the event on your calendar.
- Cut and paste whatever information you need from the email into the notes section of the calendar item.
- Delete email.
Step 4. Email that requires action or a response on your part:
- If the action/response will take a couple of minutes, do it right away. Why not get it out of the way?
- If the action/response will take more than a couple of minutes and you scheduled this time to do it, go ahead and do it.
- If you did not schedule the time and it requires a thoughtful response or action that will take more than a couple of minutes, flag it and either put it on your calendar or your task list to do later. You may want to attach the email to the task or calendar item.
- Delete the email, if you don’t need it anymore.
Step 5. You may decide to set up folders for email. Be cautious. If you do this, remember that “out of sight of mind.” Consider email in a folder as a library of documents that you may need later.
Choose a day each week to go through your email, and make sure you did not miss anything. Use the steps outlined above.
ADDed Perspective Bottom Line
Routines can make life easier. If you follow the steps above, you don’t have to figure out what to do with your email each time you open it. And you don’t have to allow it to interrupt you, really. Take charge.