Is email running your life?
It’s been recommended that you don’t check your email first thing in the morning. The idea is that you become more productive when you’re not distracted by small tasks that take up time and keep you from more important things on your to-do list.
For some people, this may be unrealistic. People may be waiting on assignments or answers from you so that they can do their work. Clients want information. And yet you probably can’t argue that you do check your email way too often, and it does become a distraction from your real work.
Is there a balance between checking email and productivity?
You have to make a system that works for your constraints. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Check your email only at certain times of the day. Plan certain times of the day to answer and respond. Make sure you turn off your alerts so that you’re not tempted to check. Use your judgment based on the policies where you work.
- When you’re reading emails, if you can answer it in less than two minutes, take care of it. For those emails that will take more time, put them in a folder marked “to-do.”
- Set up folders for emails that you need to save. After you answer an email, file it or delete it. Get it out of your inbox.
- Even better than you sorting your emails into folders is setting up rules for your email. Make your software work for you.
- If you get newsletters and blog updates, consider routing them to another email.
- Make certain times where you limit the time you spend on email. For example, right before lunch, take ten minutes and only answer the most important ones. Schedule a time for responding to those other emails so they don’t get lost.
Even if you have to check your email every half-hour, you will get two longer periods of around twenty minutes of focused productive time every hour. Once you see how valuable that time is, you can make an argument for checking your email every hour. Focus on what’s important, and think of email as an answering machine that you periodically check, as it was meant to be.