Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wait till at least an hour before you check your email!

Wait till at least an hour before you check your email!

“E-mail is not evil. It is just a little dangerous.”

~Julie Morgenstern

When email first came out, it was billed as a time-saver, but now, I think most people would agree that it is anything but that. We all get way too many emails and every person behind each and every message deserves a response, which often takes so much time.

No one would argue that interruptions make us less effective. They make it hard to get anything accomplished, and at the end of a day filled with interruptions, you feel terrible and unproductive.

Where interruptions are concerned, email is just about the worst offender there is. The reasons are twofold. First, emails take time to answer, and second, they kill our momentum. It takes time to get back up to speed on the task you were focused on when the email came in.

Though emails are an unavoidable part of our lives this day and age, we can learn to be more efficient with them. One way to do this is to wait for at least an hour after you get to work to answer your emails.

I know this will be hard for many people, because much of the time, it seems we do not just answer our emails, we answer to them. But I promise, if you adopt this method for two weeks, you will see some great results.

Here is why I think this tactic works. Starting the day with your emails puts you in a reactive mode instead of allowing you to be proactive with the things you need to accomplish. Conversely, focusing on something that is both urgent and important at the start of the day puts you in a better position to make positive progress toward your goal. At the end of the day, you get that good feeling that comes with having accomplished something of value.

For me, when I start the day answering my emails, the day seems to drag, and I can be almost certain that I will not feel good about how I have spent my time. When I wait to check emails until I am at least an hour into my work, however, it is normally a very good day.

Some other rules of thumb that can help you be more effective and efficient with your emails are as follows:
  • Try limiting the times you check and answer your emails to two or three times a day – assuming your job allows for this. Being tuned in to your email throughout the day means you will be continuously interrupted.
  • When going through your emails, respond first to those messages that can be dealt with quickly. More involved responses should be addressed when you feel you will have more uninterrupted time.
  • Because we are all inundated, it is always helpful to be able to see at a glance what the email is about. When sending email, try to include as much information as possible in the subject line. It is so refreshing to get an email with only a subject line and nothing in the message itself.
  • Much of the time, I think people try to communicate too much information in a single email. If you have more than two main points to cover, it is better to break this up into multiple messages.

Now go out and make sure that you are using email in a manner that helps, not hinders, your progress and adds value to your organization or company. Give these tips a try and remember to answer emails only after you have been at work for at least an hour.

You can do this!

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