It feels like everyone has a different way of handling email, yet nobody claims they have nailed it. I feel the same way. I think we all receive too many emails and it’s hard not to feel constantly over whelmed, or that I have missed or forgotten something.
This is how I attempt to approach email, and it’s the same with my work day. It’s all about large outcomes for what I am trying to achieve. I try not to get caught in the trap of just working away on things that have little impact, “try” being the operative word. Here is what I do:
- Check email around 3 times a day 10:00am, 1pm and around 3-4pm. Not checking emails first thing takes discipline and I don’t manage it every day. It is great to start the day knocking off things from my list first as I find I am fresh and ready. It’s a waste to use my fresh brain deleting spam emails or reading some email someone has cc’ed me on just to cover themselves.
- I have all notifications disabled on email and on my phone. This helped my sanity a lot.
- Everything needs to be actioned/deleted on the spot or put onto my paper list this gets the inbox to zero every time it’s checked. I only want to have one list and that’s my paper list.
- I don’t move email into separate folders I just search the one inbox for anything I need. I did try the folders for every email system however I found I could never find anything as the sorting was not consistent enough.
- I am ruthless with deletion if it’s in the “I am interested however not now category” then it’s gone.
- I then work on the items on my paper list by largest impact.
I realise that this won’t work for everyone as I have a management position, and generally a lot of the requests are not time critical. I also have the luxury of being able to delegate a lot of requests.
What is your system? Does it make you feel less anxious and stop things slipping through the gaps? I would love to know.