Will you manage the daily deluge of emails you receive this week?

So here I am.  One of your emails that you either want to read, delete or file for later.  These Launch Lists every Sunday night could go in a reference file or team building electronic folder that you pull out to develop your team or be passed along to them so they can decide whether to read it, delete it for file it for later.  I am positive I am not alone when I say I receive 50-80 emails a day.  I am not counting spam.  I am talking about pieces of correspondence that require some type of action, even if only to read, determine their relevancy and hit delete.

I continue to search for a method I can use and maintain for longer than a few days to process incoming and outgoing emails.  Maybe some of the research I’ve found and am using may be helpful to you, so here it is:

READ THIS:  Mindtools is one of the best executive website sources for practical solutions to daily challenges executives face.  In this article they suggest (as others I’ve read do) that you have an empty inbox by the end of every day.  For any of you that remember the TV show I Love Lucy from years ago when she and Ethel worked for a day in as wrappers in a chocolate covered cherry factory.  As the conveyer belt started speeding up they had to stuff the cherries in their hats and down their shirts to stop them from going by without wrapping them as they were instructed to do.  WATCH IT HERE (video is about 3 min) for a great laugh and you’ll understand why I chuckle when I read about empty inboxes.  At 8am it is easy to keep up.  After hours of meetings, phone calls, and required paperwork processing, at about 6 or 6:30p it becomes comical.  The 80+ emails have come in, I’ve tried getting back to the one’s that matter the most, and there sits about 10-15 that I don’t have time or sometimes the energy to return.  Thus begins the carryover to the next day.

TRY THIS:  The article suggested having some general files you place any incoming emails in.  Suggestion they make and other’s I’ve heard are:  “Action items”, “Waiting”, “Reference”, “Articles”.  Someone I work with said she has a “Done” to move items into after she’s taken the necessary action.

DO THIS:  Turn off your notifications on your computer and your phone.  Stop the constant interruptions it causes for you and those in the room with you.  It is distracting for you to be concentrating on an important task and be pulled away because you saw a notification come up or heard a ding.  We tend to react to those sounds like my Scroufus does when he hears me rattle his food dish.

Set times, throughout the day, for when you will check your emails.  A client of my recently reported to me a dramatic increase in her productivity and more importantly, her peace of mind by this one simple step.

PRACTICE THIS:  Write effective and short emails.  Make the subject lines a good reference.  Instead of  “Subject: Looking forward to our meeting”, how about, “Subject: See you this Tuesday, May 20 at 8am at Panera” and then in the body, “Looking forward to it”.  That way the person only needs to read the subject line to get your message.  No one wants to hunt through several paragraphs of information to get the necessary data.  Here’s an article on how to write good emails (which, by the way, should be short – no more than 2 paragraphs and preferably, much shorter than that).  CLICK HERE.  It mentions these 6 things:

  1. Don’t over communicate by email.
  2. Make good use of subject lines.
  3. Keep messages clear and brief.
  4. Be polite.
  5. Check your tone.
  6. Proofread.

I wish there was a “one size fits all” method for solving this avalanche of communication we’re receiving each workday.   Depending on your behavioral style and your work environment, along with the spoken and unspoken rules that seem to apply there, you will probably need to keep testing different methods.  When you find one that works stay disciplined to follow it daily and then, please SHARE IT with the rest of us!

Celebrate yourself and someone else today.   You are making small adjustments that will create big results soon.  Be patient and kind with yourself.  You are enough.

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