They have cut our communication time in half and simultaneously doubled our time spent communicating… Emails.
Whether you’re over-checking or neglecting emails these bad boys have a way of tightening their grip around our conscience message by message. We have become an open-all-hours society where we sleep with phones on our bedside tables and email alerts (along with tweets, pokes, grams and likes) can buzz our brains at any given time. This is not ideal. Nor is it healthy. But for most of us, email is a crucial part of our working life.
So, how to deal?
I would love to say that I have a clear-cut solution for you and that, after reading this, you will never have to dread the idea of opening your inbox again. But I don’t have the answer. I can only impart the wisdom that I have learnt after spending some time dealing with the time-consuming, pricked-conscience factor myself.
CREATE AN EMAIL SCHEDULE
It’s simple. Stop checking your freakin’ email every second of the day!
Keeping your email open throughout the day is not only hugely distracting, but ends up controlling how you work. There are times when I need to focus on a big project and I will close my inbox for hours at a time just to get the darn thing done without any distractions. It is important to give yourself this space to be able dedicate your entire focus to the project at hand. Schedule 3 times a day to write and reply to emails, and remember…. the more you send the more you’ll receive – so ensure it’s a necessity then keep it short, sweet & concise.
ORGANISE YOUR INBOX
Without being dramatic, this golden rule changed my life. When I was knee-deep in email mess I decided to create folders for each client. As I action or reply to new emails in my inbox I scratch them off my to-do list by dumping them in their appropriate folder. This means that if I’m on top of my emails there is a nice, clean slate of an inbox to look at. Clean inbox, clean mind.
IMPLEMENT THE TWO MINUTE RULE
Get ruthless. Hit delete. And feel good about it. Skim your inbox in the morning and delete anything you know is not going to serve you in your day. This means generic marketing newsletters, automated responses, emails from your mother, etc. etc. Just get rid of them. Creating a two-minute rule is an easy way to get emails out of your inbox and help that overwhelming feeling. The rule is easy to follow: If an email will take two minutes or less to respond to, answer it.
UNSUBSCRIBE YOUR LIFE
Unsubscribe from any unnecessary newsletters. And by unnecessary, I mean 90% of your subscriptions. Even following rule #3, it is easy to spend far too much time deleting unwanted emails from subscriptions that you simply don’t need in your life. Many websites require you to sign up to gain access to materials, but make it a habit to immediately unsubscribe to newsletters so they don’t clog your inbox.
Good luck! I hope these tips provide a bit of a lifeboat and prevent you drowning in a sea of emails!