What’s your strategy for dealing with email? For many years, I didn’t have one. I simply checked my email all day long. It reminds me of a quote from Seneca’s book, On The Shortness Of Life:
“We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them.”
What is the first thing you do when you started working this morning? Chances are high you checked your email. Most people let their agenda schedule their day.
Email is nothing more than someone asking for your time; do not let them steal your time by immediately responding to emails. Before you realize it, you are working on other people’s schedules.
High achievers have a system for checking email that usually revolves around set times. By planning when you check and respond to your email, you take over control. Instead of being a slave to your inbox, you become a master of your inbox.
Never start your day by opening your email. Before you know it, you will start responding mindlessly to emails. When you are done responding, you will wait for the next interruption to answer. Instead, create rules to master your inbox and take control over your agenda.
Keys To Dealing With Email
- Check your email onset times.
- An example of a good schedule is 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the late afternoon.
- Alternatively, you can check your email once per day, for 30-60 minutes (depending on how many emails you receive).
- Only pick times to respond to Email when you are NOT at your best. For instance, I do not check my email in the morning. I use the morning for writing and content creation. In the afternoon, when I am less creative, I respond to emails.
- Turn of all email notifications (phone, tablet, pc, laptop).
- Be brief with your responses. Email is like a conversation. You don’t have to go through your emails 5 times before sending them.
- Take care of every email. Either delete, respond, or forward your emails. Never let anything sit.
- Once you take care of your email, file them in relevant folders. This way you achieve inbox zero.
- When you are waiting for an important email, open your email and skim through your inbox. Only look for the person you are expecting an email from, ignore the rest.
Instead of answering emails in the morning, take 15 minutes to plan your day. Set priorities for your day, and think about what you want to get done that day. Never focus on more than 4 items—the more things one your list, the more chances you will procrastinate. Keep things simple and clear. And take over your agenda by responding to emails when you decide.