Are you dealing with eMAIL or eMAUL?
For better or worse, email is now a fact of business life.
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:
- Develop your ruthless streak. How many of those newsletters you’ve subscribed to do you actually read and apply? If you haven’t implemented at least two new ideas from a newsletter in the last quarter, unsubscribe. Needless to say, if they’re just piling up in your inbox because you haven’t even opened them, unsubscribe now.
- Plan ahead. Are there some newsletters you know you want to read, but not just right now? Schedule time once or twice a week to go through them, then schedule additional time for actually implementing those ideas in your business.
- Filter out and in. Whether you rely on Outlook, Gmail, or some other program, you can almost certainly create filters that will automatically handle messages from specific senders according to your pre-established criteria. This is a great way to deal with those newsletters from Tip #2: Have them sent directly to your newly created “Newsletters to be read Friday mornings” folder so that they’re waiting for you but not cluttering your inbox (as well as your mind).
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.
- Segregate. If you currently have incoming personal messages mixed in with business messages, change your settings for those personal emails. Send them to a Gmail or other personal account. This will keep your business inbox focused on what it’s there for: business.
- Be decisive – now. How many times do you immediately act on an email or decide you don’t need to do anything at all with it, but fail to immediately delete it from your inbox? If it doesn’t deserve your attention, it doesn’t deserve space in your inbox. Use some of that ruthlessness you developed in Tip #1 and start being faster on the Delete key.
- Get help. While there are some email-related tasks only you can make decisions on, there are other tasks you can hand off to a professional who’s truly fluent in email-ese. Investing money in such a pro can pay off many times over in terms of improved productivity and decreased insanity. One such godsend is Kelly Azvedo, founder of She’s Got Systems; do yourself a favor and check out what she can do for you.
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.)This entry was posted in productivity, success factors, successful entrepreneurs, take action and tagged productivity. Bookmark the permalink.