Email has become an integral part of our lives. It became a powerful way of communicating, which quickly became the norm for businesses all over the world.
Email is great. You can attach files, pictures and videos efficiently. You get people what they need and move on with your life.
So what’s the problem? Volume. We’ve become slaves to our inventions that were created to make life easier.
Now we’re drowning in emails. Every store, car dealer, app company, and vitamin peddler is sending you emails almost on a daily basis. Spam has become an enormous issue we all deal with, and it doesn’t seem to be going away.
Today we deal with this. It doesn’t make sense to look at your email every time your phone 📱 or computer 💻 chimes. It distracts you from the task in hand and keeps you unfocused. What other people want you to look at isn’t going to get you through your day efficiently. In fact, every time you look away, you lose momentum and clarity in what you were doing.
Let’s set up some chunk time for you to check email. Depending on the volume you deal with, set for 30 – 60 minutes for email in the late morning and another block toward the late afternoon.
This is your dedicated email time. The key is to get in, handle it, and get out. One way to do this is to run through all the messages in the morning block, handle anything that can be responded to in the first 5 minutes, star the important ones you need to get back to, and delete or mark as spam all the others. You’ll have another block later in the day to get to the longer ones.
On that note, you need a good spam filter so the junk doesn’t get put in your face. There are a number of good ways to do this, and you’ll have to find one that suits your unique needs. Make a habit of marking items you didn’t elect to receive as spam within your email program. This teaches software what not to send you and helps you keep a clean inbox. With spam out of your face, look at the key communications that deserve your time and start to back your way out of long email chains that waste it.
The secret to email chunk time is to book it on your calendar, communicate clearly (so it doesn’t go back and forth), and clear your plate. This way it doesn’t sit on your mind and pester you; it also doesn’t languish unread or half answered. The sweeter result of this play is increased focus and concentration on the work you’re doing. If you’re working on a document, stay in it. Spreadsheet? Cool, get your work done there. Driving? Well, what were you thinking checking your phone anyhow?
The goal is to maintain clarity in your work and handle email at designated times. Rearrange your schedule to chunk your email time, and make this your plan for today. Try to do it again tomorrow, then the next day. In a few weeks, you’ll see the clutter dissipate and your life get better. Stick with this, and pay close attention to holding the line. Some discipline will pay off here. People may push back. That’s fine. Deliver everything that’s required of you and get your job done. Efficiency is the key. Once people learn to sync to your new rhythm, the difference in productivity and sanity will emanate from your vicinity.
The key is to get better at what you do by curating your day to serve you and free up your time.