OK! I have to admit it – if I’m not careful I can be an e-mail junkie too. And it’s not just e-mail, but social networking too. It’s just so easy to get into the habit of checking e-mail and Twitter all day long – or having some form of ‘New Message’ pinging or appearing.
The trouble with e-mail or any type of distraction of this nature is that it loses your momentum. Think of a day when you have really made great progress and achieved all you set out to do. You probably got into the flow with minimal distractions. E-mail is one of the biggest distractions and each time you hear that ‘bing’, even if you don’t open it straight away you are wondering who it is from or what it’s about.
So over the next three days I’ll be giving you my top tips to help you manage your e-mail more effectively.
Follow the normal rules of time management
1. Devote set times to checking e-mail
When you create your to do list schedule time to check your e-mails, prioritise tasks and complete things in priority order. Complete the task you are working on before either moving onto the next. This includes leaving your mail unless absolutely necessary in order to complete the task in hand. Would you allow a visitor to just drop by and demand your time? You’d expect them to make an appointment. So why should anyone sending an e-mail demand your attention when you’re in the middle of doing something else?
2. Remove distractions
Decide when is the best time for you to deal with your e-mails, and stick to this. Limit it to twice or maximum three times a day. The rest of the time either turn your e-mail program off altogether or at the very least disable the notification of new mail.
3. Your Challenge
This might take a bit of getting used to so here’s something for you to try for a week and see how you get on. (If it’s ESSENTIAL that you need to be IMMEDIATELY contacted by e-mail, then naturally this isn’t for you.)
1. Check your e-mail first thing in the morning
2. Then close the programme
3. See how long you can hold out before checking it again
4. When you open your e-mail programme check just how many (or how few) ‘urgent’, ‘must read it now’, ‘must do it now’ e-mails have arrived
5. Close the e-mail programme
6. See how long you can hold out
8. Learn from the experience!!
Try to separate other functions from your e-mail, if at all possible, to avoid the temptation to look at your e-mails each time you open that programme.
Look out tomrrow for tips on managing the volume of e-mails.