how to manage email

E-mail: The Scourge of Good Communication

By Communications

No one wants more e-mail. And yet, we sign up for e-mails because, in some cases, it is the only way to consistently get the information we seek. E-mail has gotten easier to access with smartphones, but that’s part of the problem.

How many of you have an Inbox at zero? Ever?

The biggest challenge we face is the effective management of e-mail. The “touch it once” philosophy is great if you’re not already so overwhelmed by unread messages, some of which might actually be important. I’ve sat next to a number of executives and helped them get control of this problem. It’s a one-time setup, but solves the problem pretty neatly and gives the client back the time he or she needs to do much more important tasks.

Years later, I hear from those clients who tell me that they’re able to get to “Inbox: Zero” every day. That’s pretty gratifying for me, but mostly, for them!

What’s the “touch it once” philosophy? With each new e-mail, you have decisions to make:

  1. Trash it (with secondary decisions of, a) should a rule be created? b) is this SPAM or junk to which you need to unsubscribe?)
  2. Respond to it
  3. File it

Some of you read number three and think, “File it WHERE?” and that’s the time consuming part of getting out in front of this — setting up the organization of your e-mail and the rules to help KEEP you organized going forward.

Imagine this: what if every time you entered the house with bags of groceries, they were whisked out of your hands and everything was put away exactly where it needed to go. What if, additionally, spoiled food was removed from your refrigerator, making room for new ingredients, and the trash was deposited neatly in the receptacle outside and rolled to the curb? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Think about that the next time you are faced with a burgeoning inbox, and let me know if you think your team could benefit from some executive session help with that.

Managing Interruptions: How to Escape the Drag of E-mail

By Communications

E-mail drives me nuts. At times, I used to feel completely overwhelmed by it. I’m so reluctant to sign up for anything using my e-mail address because I know the end result is more junk clogging my consciousness.

Several years ago I decided to get organized and learn everything I could about managing e-mail. It was then when I adopted the use of rules, sometimes complicated, decision-trees that ended up sorting mail just the way I wanted it. I unsubscribed to everything possible and for e-mail I should keep, but not necessarily read, I set up automatic sorting and storage for that as well.

The tough part is ignoring the call to be slave to the incoming message. I refuse to do it! Texting and calling is immediate response technology, and even with that, if I’m meeting with someone in person, they have my full attention, and you’re going to get a call or text back later when I can give YOU my full attention.

I’ve learned that the best way to manage e-mail is to check it 2-3 times a day. I’ve noticed on days when I have several meetings, I end up checking it only twice anyway — and nothing bad happens!

The second tip — which is even harder to accomplish than the first and is my daily challenge — is the “touch it once” philosophy. When a message comes in, you either trash it, respond to it, or flag/move it to an action list.

What tips do you have for managing e-mail? Do you hate it as much as I do?