Are you dealing with eMAIL or eMAUL?

For better or worse, email is now a fact of business life.
inbox by xJason.Rogersx
While it can, in theory, increase your productivity, email more often than not grabs the upper hand, and you end up getting pushed around by it.  Email typically sucks people into a black hole of reading, ignoring, replying, following links, and forwarding–despite the fact that most email messages don’t deserve that much of your time or focus.

How to switch from eMAUL to eMAIL

Here are some good steps to start with:

Many people claim they must check email the first thing when they sit down at their desks because “There might be a message from a client in there.”  It’s very true that a client may be trying to contact you and that you want to respond promptly.  The big question, though, is this: How often do you immediately bail out of your inbox when you don’t see client emails?  The whole “might be a client message” argument sounds like an excellent reason for diving head-first into email, but I feel it’s actually a self-sabotaging decision.  To cover all your bases (being responsive AND managing your time/energy well), create a filter that sends client emails to a high-priority file, then check only that file first thing in the morning.  This will keep you focused on your high-payoff activities.

What’s been your experience with email?  Are you getting mauled by it, or have you figured out how to seize control?  If you’ve developed a strategy that works especially well, the rest of us would be so grateful to hear about it!

(By the way, thanks to xJason.Rogersx for posting the scary screen-shot in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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