Friday, October 31, 2008

Don’t check emails, process emails

Has your email taken on a life of its own? Is it the nexus of everything you do? Is it your to-do list, calendar, task scheduler and more? If it is then you are not doubt in a world of pain. My advice? You need to make a mental shift and realize that email is simply a medium for things to do, nothing else.

 

Everyone I know says that they “check” their email. No wonder their inboxes are overflowing and they feel constantly overwhelmed. Why? Because emails are required to be processed. That means after you have checked an email DO SOMETHING WITH IT! Don’t just leave it sitting there in your inbox. Process the damm thing and move onto the next thing you need to get done. Convert emails to actions. When you read an email ask what actions you need to take as a result of this email? Whether you delete the email, archive, respond or even defer it make sure that you have a system that allows you to process emails.

 

In reality you should aim to process your inbox to empty by the end of the day. Sure not always possible but none the less a good target to aim for. Your inbox is simply a container for emails as they arrive, it is not a container for saving them for all eternity while your procrastinate with how to best handle each one. Deal with it and move on. It is far more satisfying to finish the day with an empty inbox. You know you have achieved something!

 

You may have a laugh but have a look at your inbox right now, now look at anyone else’s inbox and I’ll bet there are many, many emails that have sat there for month even years. If you want to recover your productivity you need a system to process emails effectively and efficiently. I’ll write something about a system that works for me soon but for the time being, if you REALLY want to master your emails, start thinking PROCESS not CHECKING.