As part on my ongoing project to have a digital detox every so often; a few great tips on email management came out from the Time Management course I was on last week. Now in reality it's more of a Brain Management course. You can't manage time, you can only manage yourself and how you use your time. Engage your brain, to focus on what you need to do and when, in the most effective way.
For me, as I have written before; I have too many social media tool habits. Checking Twitter as soon as I wake in the morning... checking emails before bed. A habit sticks after twenty times of doing that activity and it can be really hard to break the habit.
The same has to be said for email management. I am really bad at managing my time when it comes to emails and I also receive far too many emails. Over 300 a day with the day job and around 50 a day with LadyM Presents. I have to keep most of them so it is about filing them away, which takes time in itself and in reality I only ever need to reply to about eight to ten emails a day.
My downfall is my previous history of replying to emails straight away. Being highly efficient. This is where I have gone wrong, as now people expect this of me, so I feel compelled to keep that up but it means I view my Outlook all day every day.
So here are a few top tips I have learnt about how to manage your email better
1) Turn your email notifications off
There is nothing worse than working away on a piece of work and your email notification pops up to alert you to new messages. I can't help myself - I have to read them and reply straight away. Firstly turn off any sound you may have, secondly turn off the notification box itself. You can set it so that you do get pop up notifications from certain people, if there are those, such as customers that you must read and perhaps action, straight away.
2) Schedule time to read your emails
Make sure that you only check your emails once an hour, or every half an hour. This will take some time to practice and get comfortable with. I'm not there yet, but it is only day one for me! Close down your Outlook or mail provider and only open it each hour. This will truly mean you are not tempted to keep looking and will provide you with a sizeable chunk of time to work on your projects and to do lists without distraction. If it is urgent, I'm sure someone will call you! If this seems like a big step, then train yourself on this by increasing your time by five minutes every hour until you only check hourly - remember an action takes twenty times to become a habit.
3) If you can see the person; don't email them!
Email seems like a wonderful thing, but it can also make us very lazy. If the person you are emailing is in your lie of sight then don't email them! Get up, take a walk and go and talk to them. This will a) get you out of your seated position and stretch out your body, b) improve communication. Of course, if they are engrossed in a piece of work then this isn't the best call (more on that in a future post) but if not then have an actual conversation. Too many people send emails for the sake of it. There are some situation where you need to document any discussion, but this could be done post conversation, thus minimising email threads.
What are your top tips for better email management? I'd love to hear your digital detox stories at @ladympresents