Are you an email geek like I was who has to see each email as they come in? Do you look at them more than once?
Just as with paper handling, email handling can equally be a big waste of productive time and needs to be regulated – actually you need to regulate yourself.
The thing to realise also is that emails increase exponentially as we accept offers, mailings etc without really getting any benefit.
Also do you file every email – if so this needs to be managed just the same as paper filing.
Try this approach:
- At start up I created two new email addresses IN addition to my private email address. This splits business emails away from private, in order to focus on one or the other not both.
- Secondly I have two business email addresses so that I can stream the emails into one address that is my prime business activity and the second one is everything else.
- The prime business one gets my attention every day whilst the other gets my attention when I want to or even just once a week.
- On Friday afternoons I spend one hour on all emails in both in boxes and clear them both out completely – simple.
I apply similar rules to paper based records.
- Firstly decide when you are going to look at your emails and stick to it. Don’t read each email as it comes in as this disrupts your routine. I usually combine this with a morning coffee break so that I know early in the morning if there is anything urgent to reply to.
- Read the email and decide now what to do with it. A big time waster is to read an email and then move on to the next without doing anything. This would be the equivalent of reading the paper based material many times.
- Decide first of all if you need to have this email coming to you at all. If not unsubscribe. We all start our business accepting every email as we are afraid of missing something important. After one month take a long hard look at whether you got anything from those emails subscriptions and if you did not unsubscribe – you can always join again if you want to. In my case this got rid of 85% of emails in my non business address inbox after one month.
- Decide on all emails as soon as you read it whether to delete it, reply to it, or hold it in the inbox to answer when you have more information.
- Do not file it away unless it meets the criteria we talked about with paper – you must have it – such as electronic bank statements.
- If you decide to reply to an email, do so with the original and then both are together in your sent box so you don’t need the original in the inbox anymore – delete it.
- If you must file an email separately because you do need to keep it same rules as with paper – make an electronic file with an appropriate name – e.g.Bank statements.
- If you are keeping it just in case, then the same rules as with paper – create a file by month and then if the email is not used delete it. Each month look at your files and delete those you don’t need or have not used.
Simple management of emails will drastically reduce the time you spend on this admin task without cost. That time can then be channelled to productive work and will bring progress and rewards. Remember you are looking to achieve 80% of your time on productive work, hopefully more and definitely not less.
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If you have any questiuons or comments please leave them below,
Yours in business