A clean inbox sounds freaking awesome right? Or even an inbox that doesn’t stress you out when you open it. But email just keeps coming at you and keeps multiplying. A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that the average knowledge worker spends 28 percent of his or her workweek either writing, reading, or responding to e-mail. (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012). Another study states that the average professional wastes over 2.6 hours in their email inbox everyday. Added up for a year, thats about 27 days (683.8 hours if you only spend time on email on weekdays but I know most people are still in their inbox on Saturdays and Sundays, thats over 28 days a year!) I don’t know about you but I can thing of a million other important things I could do with 28 days a year!
Dealing with email has become such a problem for people and clients of mine, I use to get asked the question “how do you manage your email so well?” so often, I actually created a QUICK course to teach people how to deal with their email. To assist others on their mission to reduce email I teach them how “Escape Email Overwhelm in Under 1 Hour.” It was obviously a problem for many people because as of today almost 2600 people from over 100 countries have enrolled in the course.
I’ve notice since I’ve created the course this has been such a hot topic. So much advice, tips, tricks, and softwares have now been thrown out there, the answer to how to deal with email has become so complicated.
Aaron Dignan writes,
“According to productivity thought leaders, to master your e-mail, you need to do most (if not all) of the following:
- Label your e-mails for faster retrieval
- Set up rules so that your e-mail can sort itself
- Archive all of your e-mails so that you can focus
- Color code your e-mail, for visual cues to priority
- Use a reminder tool so that important e-mail chains resurface
- Convert e-mail into tasks, so that nothing slips through the cracks
- Track e-mail, so you can see when/where it gets read
- Create e-mail templates so that you can rapidly send common messages
- Unsubscribe from excess newsletters frequently
- Limit your e-mails to five sentences or less
- Use a social plug-in so that you can see the faces and facts behind your e-mails
Email unfortunately, has become an extension of ourselves. A permanent place to dump to-dos and for others to put THEIR DEMANDS on us. Sure there are many hacks, tricks, tips and softwares you can use but it really doesn’t have to be that complicated. Here are the 3 simple main ideas that I suggest people think about when trying to conquer the overwhelm of email. Everything else, all the tactics and tricks I always suggest, really come under these 3 areas in my mind.
1. Your Email Should Not Substitute As A Project Management Tool Or To Do List
Almost every email is connected to an action or a complex goal/bigger picture project in life. Maybe an ultimate life goal, a project for work, places you need to go, to do’s etc etc. Learning and analyzing what is actually coming into your inbox and understanding their bigger purposes, will allow you to see where the emails truly belong. Learning to process your email and put it where it REALLY needs to go is the key here.
2. Learning The Difference Between Important, Urgent, and Non Of The Above
Instant communication has made most people forget the simple fact you don’t need to look at it now. You don’t have to respond to the text, answer the phone, or answer the email right away. Email is just another thing in your life that screams look at me, give me attention! If you can learn to resist the urge and process email when it is convenient, most productive and effective for YOU, you will indeed have learned an important lesson. This really is a big life lesson of how you spend your time. Do you bow to things that scream for attention or focus on what’s really important to you. Honestly enjoying a nice meal with loved ones and connecting is really more important to me then answering an email. As long as I’ve been doing this, no one has ever died and no catastrophe has occurred since I only check my email twice a day.
3. LET THINGS GO – Learn To Use The Delete Key
This is really is another life lesson. You really need to decide what is important to you in life and learn to let go of whats not. Same goes for email. Distracting projects and thoughts need to die for your most important projects and thoughts to live. (I think that’s a tweetable :-). Learn to press DELETE.
I hope some of this has helped make your quest to deal with email a little bit easier. If you still need a more help and have an hour (so you can save 28 days of your life this year!) I suggest you checkout my course. Escape Email Overwhelm < 1 Hour. If it doesn’t help you, you get your money back. Simple.
If you want some quick email tips you might also like this post Email Kills Productivity – 5 Tips To Escape Email Overwhelm.