Managing Your Email
Is your Email driving you crazy?
Inbox overflowing with stuff you should be acting on?
Do you find yourself opening your Inbox, hoping for something interesting to distract or entertain you, and then closing it again without taking any real action?
Do you get distracted by email popups throughout the day and then have trouble getting back to the work you should be doing?
You are not alone! Here are some suggestions for taming this modern-day monster:
- Do NOT check your email first thing in the morning! When you begin work in the morning, spend an hour completing a report, making phone calls, or working on any priority tasks that will leave you feeling as though you’ve done something of substance. This is usually when you have the most energy and ability to focus, so don’t waste that opportunity on someone else’s priorities. (If you must, take a quick peek at your inbox in case there are any emergencies, but don’t get distracted reading every one.)
- Turn off your instant email alerts, and only check your email two or three times a day:
one hour after you start the day,
1/2 hour before lunch, and
1/2 hour before the end of the day.
Most email represents someone else's priorities, not yours, so don't waste your valuable time on their priorities until you have worked on your own.
3. When you do attack the inbox, stick with it until all the new emails are processed in some way:
a. Immediately complete any brief task that’s called for (3 minutes or less),
b. Schedule time to work on larger tasks,
c. Forward those that should be handled by someone else (and delete your copy or file it in a “Forwarded for action” folder)
d. Delete emails you do not intend to act on, and
e. File information you will need in the future.
4. Set up several folders to hold emails you can’t act on right away, and drag those emails to those folders (or set up "rules" to direct those emails to those folders automatically). For example:
a. Entertainment - Links to cartoons, YouTube videos etc. that are pure entertainment (look at those as a reward at the end of the day)
b. Purchases - Receipts for purchases, new order numbers, and other info that only has short term value
c. Pending – Emails that are waiting on an action by someone else.
d. Upcoming Events – Information about event registration, directions, etc.
5. For tasks that you must act on soon but that will take more than 3 minutes, place them onto your schedule immediately, according to their priority and connection to other tasks.
NOTE: If you use MS Outlook, you can bring those tasks directly to your Task List or Calendar by clicking on "Move" and moving them electronically.
Don’t let email soak up your energy and your time. Try this approach to keep it under control and out of your hair.