Email is eating you alive. If you’re like the rest of the corporate world, you spend more time with your email client open than any other program. It is the first thing you look at when you boot your computer and you don’t shut it off all day.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I let email run my life?”
Maybe you haven’t even realized how much of an impact email has on your day. Let’s look at your email usage realistically. You check your email (work or personal, it really doesn’t matter) as soon as your eyes are open enough to see each morning. You grab that cell phone and check your email.
If an email notification pops up on your commute to the office, you check it even if you’re driving. As soon as you boot your computer each morning, the first application you open (if it’s not set to auto-open) is your email program. You’ve got to see how many emails came in over night.
You then keep your email client open all day. You might minimize it every now and then but it’s always open. You even have the notifications set to “ping” you when a new email arrives. Worse than the notification, though, is you have to read that email right away.
Each evening, you feel good because you responded to as many emails as possible before you left. You still have hundreds of emails in your inbox though. Then you check it all evening instead of being present with your family.
You’re letting email run your life. Stop letting that happen and take control of your life.
Why do you let email run your life? What good is it doing? Does it make you more productive? I’ll argue it actually makes you less productive. Email is a blessing and a curse but we’ve made it more than it’s meant to be.
Here are a few tips for using email more efficiently so email does not run your life:
1. Limit the number of email in your inbox. If possible, get to “inbox zero” at the end of each day.
2. Batch process email by processing it only two or three times a day.
3. Add email processing times to your calendar.
4. When you batch process email, respond immediately when possible instead of leaving it in your inbox for later.
5. Re-read but do not agonize about making each email perfect. Communication that should be perfect should be in the form of a memo or formal letter.
6. Delete emails you know you don’t need, even if you might find the content interesting.
7. Turn off email notifications.
8. Set your email so you have to manually retrieve it. Auto-downloaded email will be more tempting to read immediately.
9. Train your co-workers and clients to not use email as a form of communication that requires an immediate response.
10. Unsubscribe from informational email services unless you find it valuable.
I challenge you to take at least two of the above 10 tips and implement them today. You have trained yourself by your actions to feel that email should be a priority. It shouldn’t be. Client/customer service is a priority but emergencies are not communicated via email.
What tips do you have to keep email from running your life? Share in the comments below.