How I Handle My Email to Save Time and P

How I Handle My Email to Save Time and Prevent Email Overload

Probably one of the biggest time thief of today is email. Many of us have this need to check it frequently throughout the day and see what news there is or what is going on with friends, colleagues and family. I have been guilty of this myself and it is only when I have logged the amount of time with a time log that I have gotten the full scope of what a terrible time waster email can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying email is bad, I’m saying my habit of checking email frequently was disastrous to my daily productivity. I was guilty of not having an email strategy!

Because we all need and use email in different ways based upon our business and position there is no one hard and fast set of rules that will suit everyone.

That being the case let me share what I have put together for myself and perhaps it may give you some ideas to help you put together your email strategy. I am always open to new methods, techniques and ideas that will help me improve anything I do and I would suggest being open to new ways could be a useful way for anyone to look at things too.

I only check email once a day at 2:00 pm.

You might think this is a bit drastic just like I did at let me explain something here; I realized that other people’s emails were driving my daily productivity and my agenda was secondary. I do not know where that habit came from but none the less I knew that it had to change. I felt I had a duty to get right back to people with an answer and that answer often needed a little research which in turn was just eating up my time. I also noticed that the more I responded to people and helped them out the more they used me and my time to solve small challenges they could easily solve themselves.

Once I started only checking emails at 2:00 pm some people were upset that I had missed a deadline or not responded on time. I politely let them know that if something was so urgent that they could always get hold of me face to face or call my cell phone. The key here was being polite and firm and let them know that I was sure they would support me getting my work done as I had key production indicators to meet as well.

I do not use email as an instant messaging system.
I have work to do so “Please Do Not Disturb” when people would whine about this I make it clear that if it is important they can call me or they can swing by my office. I actually had a “Please Do Not Disturb” sign that I would hang on my office door when I was working on my own tasks. When folks found that I was not so easily accessible or they had to actually talk to me instead of using email their need to communicate with me seemed to fade away.

Where possible use only the subject line for the communication.
I ask people to do this as this saves time and keeps us both on point

One topic per email.
This helps me keep the email thread focused on one idea only. If the subject line is clear then this makes it easier to reference any communication on that topic. If there is more than one topic in the email then I have to start going through different emails looking for answers to any questions I may have.
Use BOXBe or some other filtering app to keep your inbox lean

For an email to get through to me it has to go through BoxBe first. I have just under 400 approved senders and anything else will be kept in the Boxbe waiting list folder to be reviewed by me when I choose.

I sign up for a lot of newsletters and blogs that I feel may have some value for me and when I receive them I realize that they may not be a good fit. If this is the case I take the time to unsubscribe so that I do not have to deal with anymore emails from that site. I do not want to be one of those people that end up deleted mail on a frequent basis that could have been avoided in the first place.

Use Folders
I have many folders and once I have dealt with an email I save it to the appropriate folder which could be a person’s name or a project name. This keeps my in box clear and makes it easy to reference the email should the need come up in the future.

Deal with it or delete it.
I answer emails when I read them so I do not have to go back to them. This is a great way of dealing with them straight away and saving time later on. If the person needs a reply I reply immediately upon reading it. If I need more time to find some more information to be able to respond I reply with a bcc to myself saying when I will get back to them so they know when to expect the complete answer. I then make an appointment in my calendar with a reminder so that I have blocked of time to do the necessary research and respond appropriately. If the email has information about a meeting or a reservation or other similar details I put that information immediately onto my calendar with the appropriate invites and reminders so that I remember to do what is necessary. After making additions to the calendar I save the email to the appropriate folder.

Switch off email reminder and turn off your email
Unless your job requires that you answer emails as they come in then turn off your email when not using it. I put a reminder on my calendar to check emails from 2:00 to 3:00 PM. This one hour is more than enough time for me to respond to the emails that have arrived over the last 24 hours. This works for me but for some people you may need to schedule a time slot two or maybe even three times a day.

I made a decision to make email work for me. Email does not require me to be at everyone else’s beck and call. I have made some firm decisions in a polite way to control my email to serve me the way I want it to. The reason for this is because time is very important to me and I demand of myself not to be a victim to the needs of others and that I spend my time the way I choose.

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