Is Email Robbing You of Productivity?

Time Management practices have changed, mostly because of changes in technology.  Email, as a daily tool, has become both a blessing and a curse to most managers.

On the good side, email has made it easy to share complex documents in a paperless format.  It allows users to get quick responses to questions, and gives managers an efficient way to delegate assignments.  Unfortunately, there is also a cost.

Many managers get more than 100 emails per day.  Buried in the mix of email messages are a number of items that are time sensitive, such as meeting invites, employee relations issues, and impending business crises.  Ignoring email isn’t an option.

Consider having someone review your email during the day to watch for those few hot items.  A willing colleague can delete junk mail, get you off of mailing lists, delegate certain types of items, red flag critical emails, file messages, and locate you when a crisis is brewing.

If you can’t find a willing suspect, or if your email is just too confidential to be reviewed, you have no choice but to develop new email management habits.  There’s no faster way to lose credibility than finding yourself out of the loop because you just couldn’t keep up.

Here are a few tips for managers who want to flourish amidst the flood of email during the average day.

1. Take an honest look at who is clogging your email box.  Discuss the issue with those individuals and make a plan for communicating some other way.  You don’t have time for “conversations” over email, so make time for a phone call or standing meeting.

2. Limit how many times you check email during the day.  Over checking email is now a common addiction, so be honest with yourself about what frequency is really necessary.

3. When you do check mail, scan the new messages for crisis potential and handle those first.  Always scan with an eye for what is urgent and important.

4. Avoid using your inbox as a to-do list. Transfer action items to a written list so you can delete the email right away.  Put an “A”next to items that you must do before the end of the day, “B” for important but not urgent. Delete low value messages quickly.

5. Set aside 15 minutes at the end of the day to delete and file email messages.  Don’t leave them all in your inbox!  Set a goal to have 20 or less in your inbox before you leave for the day.  You will find things much quicker if they are in files.

6. Take the extra few minute to opt out of email lists.  This will have a long-term benefits.

Once you start  to turn the tide on your email flow, talk to your work group about how they can do the same.  You’ll be amazed at how the groups’ productivity will improve!

Be honest. How many times will you check your email today?

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