Stop Email Insanity

How email intervals can save you from insanity
By MIKE ANDERSON

Problem:
Email is unre lent ing, and when you tend to your inbox—people just reply back to you more quickly. Email will take over your life if you let it. Here’s how I fought back.

Solution: Email Intervals
Step 1: At the beginning of the day decide when you’ll check email. I suggest that you pick a time in morning and at the end of the day, and stick to only opening your inbox at those times. We’ve been trained like lab rats to keep hitting the refresh bar, but it’s silly and makes us unproductive.

Step 2: Get a timer. Email inter vals will require you to sprint through your email for a set period of time. Grab a timer…..

Step 3: Work like a crazy person for 10 minutes. Open your inbox like a horse leaving the gate — hustle. You will be surprised how much email you can get done in the first interval. In the first 10 minutes try to use what ever processing system you use to tell what is important, what is trash, and what is good to just file away.

Step 4: Take a two minute break and read a few pages. I find that I clear my mind by reading a few pages of a book. It takes me out of the suffering torment of email for just long enough to remind myself that if I hurry I can get through my entire inbox and get back to meaningful work — creating things, meeting with people, planning, building, thinking, discovering, investing in relationships…

Step 5: Repeat and then shut down your email program. When you finish your short break, get back to another 10 minutes of hustling through your email. and repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’ve done what you need to.

My findings
Most people rely on email way too much — it’s a good communica­tion tool, but it lacks emotion, can go on rabbit trails, and gives peo­ple a sense that they need to include every one in their conversation (death by cc:).

People learn quickly that if they need you immediately, they should pick up the phone. A 3 minute phone call or face to face conversa­tion can clear up a 20 email conversation, and has the added bonus of build ing a trust relationship with that person.

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