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:
- Define how much time you will allocate to email each day and schedule those blocks of time into your calendar.
- Only open your email during those blocks of time.
- Identify which emails are tasks that will take more than two minutes to execute and add them to your task list.
- Identify which emails are appointments-enter them into your calendar and then file or delete the email.
- Identify which emails are projects and schedule the next steps or assign the tasks
- Save emails that you need to in appropriate folders – remember your inbox is NOT a folder
- Delete emails that you no longer need, especially if there is a thread of the same email conversation
- 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 www.online-stopwatch.com).
- If you continue to struggle with the time you spend in your inbox consider using http://emailga.me to help you, and even motivate you, to stay on track.
- 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.