Take Control of Your Life: Managing Email

This post is slightly different from my Get Unplugged post in that it refers only to email. Email can hijack our best laid plans of achieving the day’s action plans. The alert goes and you must see what it is. Or, like yesterday morning when I started the day with email it was forty-five minutes later before I got to the top priority job of the day. Forty-five minutes behind and it is 6:45 a.m.; how to you start with a positive feeling when you know your plans are already that far behind.

To take control you need to have absolute disconnection times. For me that is the first two hours of the working day. This is when I am at my peak for the day and others don’t interrupt you – unless of course you open your mail client. Many people have found that the disconnect works well between 8 and 10 a.m.

Have set times during the day; two to three times a day. Answer only what needs to be answered at that time and leave the rest to the end of day and answer only what you have time for during normal working hours.

I have found it much easier to determine what is important by setting up filters and folders to pre-sort the incoming mail. For example if you have a folder that is dedicated to collecting newsletters you can view these when you have time as they are a lower priority. I also sort by a person’s name allowing me to quickly find information fast as I need it and to help establish priority. If you have control of your own mail server (highly recommended) create addresses for such things as newsletters, association mailings etc.

I also found that once I stopped forwarding email, particularly the omnipresent jokes, that people stopped forwarding unwanted email to me. It helps you and your associates.

It is critical that you manage your email or it will manage you. Email is like a gas, it will expand to fill the available space. Take control of your email now.