Reviews & Profiles
Ways to tame your email
Posted Tuesday, February 19 2013 at 00:00
The average worker spends 28 per cent of their work-week reading and answering email according to research by IDG/McKinsey Global Institute. In a five day week with 40 hours, that translates to 11 hours, which is about 1.5 days of productive work lost to e-mailing unless of course you are an e-mail marketer (at which point you would be underperforming).
In the early 2000s, it used to be “cool”, you felt loved and important when you found a full inbox. E-mail was novel.
Today, email is a necessary evil, a time consuming entity that requires regular taming, monitoring and protecting.
An executive director of one NGO articulated it as a “nightmare of endless juggling and meandering” between inbox, sent mail, forwards and plain old spam.
Tips to regain control over your inbox
Schedule emailing for regular intervals in the day. Early morning and end of day are great for sending detailed responses while mid-morning can be used for quick responses.
Get a smartphone so you can use up idle minutes spent waiting in receptions, parking lots to catch up on e-mails that may be urgent.
Disable features that distract or confuse you. For example, many people complain about the way Gmail bunches email threads together; you can disable it from Settings and switching off Conversations.
MS Outlook plays a sound every time you receive an e-mail. It is distracting as it forces you to check your inbox out of curiosity. Disable this feature under the Options menu.
Archive. When you’ve responded to an email the ball is in the recipient’s court; select the email for archiving rather than deleting.
In case you need to find it again you can search by the name of the sender or subject. Archiving brings clarity to your inbox much like cleaning out your closet helps you realise that three quarters of the clothes in there need to be donated.
Deal with each and every email using the four Ds model: Delete it, Do it, Delegate it or Defer it. A caveat on Defer, is not to ignore it; you must defer with the purpose of gaining additional information to help you choose another ‘D’.
Create folders like “Weddings”, “Business proposals”, “Staff” , “Learning”, “Reference” and then send e-mails to those folders.
Create filters (Gmail/Yahoo) or Rules (Outlook) for good-to-know stuff. I have a LinkedIn folder, a Twitter folder, a Happy Ever After folder, a White papers folder and about eight other folders.
Messages with particular subject lines and particular sender details are automatically sent to these folders. At the end of the week when I have more time I can go through each folder and see what good tidbits exist there.
Empty your inbox every end of work week by following the four Ds. It is like starting with a clean slate every Monday and psychologically, it removes the feeling of being overwhelmed by seeing 2,378 unread messages.