Improve your email efficiency

Have you ever felt like you just spent 8 hours on email?

What a painful way to feel about your day – unless you’re absolutely elated that you just cleared ten thousand emails from your inbox.  One of the biggest challenges with emails is that they sometimes contain links. You click on a link and voilà, you’re on the Internet and before you know it you’re scrolling through LinkedIn profiles and you’ve completely lost track of time.

There are ways to actually win at email but you’ll only be able to benchmark your success if you track how much time you truly spend on email in the first place. After you have tracked your time for 2-3 days then consider adopting any of the strategies below.

Here are 10 steps to help improve your overall efficiency with email:

  1. Define how much time you will allocate to email each day and schedule those blocks of time into your calendar.
  2. Only open your email during those blocks of time.
  3. Identify which emails are tasks that will take more than two minutes to execute and add them to your task list.
  4. Identify which emails are appointments-enter them into your calendar and then file or delete the email.
  5. Identify which emails are projects and schedule the next steps or assign the tasks
  6. Save emails that you need to in appropriate folders – remember your inbox is NOT a folder
  7. Delete emails that you no longer need, especially if there is a thread of the same email conversation
  8. Challenge yourself by setting a timer to keep you focused, even challenged, to stay on track (use a PDA, an egg timer or an online tool like
  9. If you continue to struggle with the time you spend in your inbox consider using to help you, and even motivate you, to stay on track.
  10. If you get stuck figuring out what to do with your email go back to the rule of thumb:
    • if it’s an appointment put it in your calendar
    • if it’s a task put it on your To-Do list
    • if it’s information you need to keep put it in a folder and
    • if it’s someone’s contact information you need enter it into your database.



The glass is no longer half full….get to dreaming and planning.

I am absolutely a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. It’s part of who I am. It began early on for me maybe because I’m part of a very large clan – I eat fast, I can talk fast, am quick to laugh, quick to motivate and I’ve seen enough triumph over adversity in my life that I just can’t help but see the glass as half full.

I watched how systems provided the framework for our full house to function and I’m a huge advocate of systems to this day – not as a mode to control but rather as a method to let go. Systems are what allows me to capture my goals, ideas and all the things I want to do so that I can then reflect, review and recalibrate where necessary. I do this throughout the year but it’s always at the half way point of the year that I look at my glass – just to be sure it’s still half full 🙂

This is a version of what I wrote last year at this time…..

It’s important to allow ourselves to dream., plan and succeed. If you don’t have goals how will you know you’ve accomplished anything?

Consider scheduling in some time in the next few weeks to review your goals. If you don’t have them in writing this is a perfect time to put pen to paper (or yes, finger to keyboard). Pick ten things you want to do before the end of the year, write them down and make them happen for yourself. Easier said than done, I know, but there are reasons why successful people always say they had a plan….. here are some tips to help you create your plan.

In the kAos Group complimentary on-line Assessment our very first statement is:
“I have a good system for planning, prioritizing and achieving my goals.”

Here are a couple of tips that we give people to help them with their goals.

When creating your goals, keep them simple, write them down and follow this handy SMART rule.

S = specific – who, what, where, when and why
M = measurable – to know when you have completed the goal
A = Attainable – are they realistic?
R = Relevant – are they compatible with your life?
T = Time-Bound – set a completion date

Write your goals as positive statements and include dates, times and even quantifiable criteria so you know when you’ve achieved your goal. Be sure to make them realistic so you can experience the incredible feeling of reaching one or all of your goals.

More Tips – Keep your goals where you can see them. Schedule in a time each month to reassess the goals and ensure that all the ‘next steps’ have been accounted for in your to-do list or on your calendar.

Organizing Papers – Horizonal versus Vertical…you’re both right!

I totally understand that paper in your home can get totally out of control. And really there are only two options to whip it into shape – Vertically  (generally hanging file systems) or horizontally (often referred to as piles or stacks).

Neither is right or wrong as long as it works for you and you enjoy looking at it all the time. it’s the enjoy looking at it part that most people have a hard time dealing with so here are a few kinder design styles for real life papers.

Vertically…this can be in the style of a complete open air hanging file system, a step desk top organizer or on a shelf in magazine boxes. BUT here are some options to sweeten the vertical file appeal and up the anti on your design style..

Office Candy Leather File Totes

Office Candy Leather File Totes

See Jane Work   Accordion Metal Sorter

See Jane Work Accordion Metal Sorter








Horizontally…for the lovers of tossing receipts in a drawer, shoe box and piling those tax documents higher and higher throughout the year – then give these ideas a try…

Semikolon Secretary Box

Semikolon Secretary Box





Taking Your Tasks Digital (Mac)

You might want to check this app out if you are used to paper to-do lists divide the page into four sections -where you would group tasks based on if you needed to do them today, next, or later……

“(Later got two sections to hold all the stuff I didn’t want to forget but couldn’t do right away.) Paper is great for this, because rewriting the lists every day made me think harder about how many things I was mentally committing to do—and purge or delegate as many as I could.”

Eisenpower brings this quadrant-style task management to your Mac.

<a href='’>Eisenpower Review | Mac|Life.

The Best Tablet for Business Use

Cheryl Black

Twenty years ago, everyone brought pen and paper to meetings. Five years ago, it was the laptop. Now, look around the conference table and you’ll see smartphones and tablets. If you haven’t already purchased but are considering a tablet for business purposes you are probably wondering “which one?”.

We’ve done your homework for you. Here is what a group of certified tech geeks thinks about the tablets on market.

Probably the Microsoft Surface Pro. It’s a natural extension of the MS apps that most people use in the workforce (power point, excel, word…). –Casey Flinn, Blackbaud Product Manager

iPad….duh, right? –Steve Maclaughlin, Blackbaud Idea Lab Director

I’m biased because I own an iPad and haven’t used an Android tablet for the past 4-5 months.  For me, the iPad is a great business tablet.  I stay in touch and connected through integration with Microsoft Exchange and Google’s email…

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In fight or flight? Care for yourself and plan to get back on track

It’s a simple fact that when in trauma, such as dealing with death or dying, caring for aging parents and new babies, job change, job loss, a promotion, moving or divorce (just to name a few) our brains default to the most simple function of fight or flight. What’s odd about this is we often don’t event notice it’s happening when we’re in the thick of it. The worst part is that we only realize the effect on our personal and professional lives when the trauma is minimized.

Bills might be overdue, we’re behind at work or the house is in disarray. Laundry piles up the garage or the basement becomes a collection area for things that need to be dealt with and we slowly realize that we’ve been hanging on like a kitty cat to the curtains.

The upside is that you are now cognizant of where you’re at and what needs to be done…. and the beautiful thing is that there are people and templates to help you get it all done.

This was a helpful list of 5 quick things to help you cope during a crisis – my guess is that you’ll read it and share it with a friend… most people in crisis read this and freeze trying to figure out how to implement the strategies.

About 8 years ago, while in my own crisis, I started to capture my favorite quotes and keep them near. I even posted my absolute favorite on my kitchen cabinets on a bright pink sticky note! :). Today those favorite quotes have grown and grown to a 18 page Word document (and it’s sorted by theme so I can find the quotes I’m looking for faster).

Here’s a link to a few of my favorite, inspiring words – I hope you find them as supportive and heart warming as I did and still do.

Feel free to contact us if you’d like our help to get back on track!