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11 Hacks To Manage Emails Efficiently

11 Hacks To Manage Emails Efficiently

Once, a coworker and I were having a discussion about ways to more effectively manage email.  She said “I have this thing. It bounces on my screen so I can’t ignore it every time an email comes in. That way I make sure I don’t miss anything.”

This wasn’t my idea of effective time management.

Email is important. It’s a vehicle for communication between you and your customers and your employees. You have a problem when you get to a point where email manages you instead of you managing email, which seemed like the case with this little bouncing ball that the team member had.

I receive over 300 emails a day. I could easily be answering emails all day, but then nothing else would get done. Managing these emails effectively is crucial to my focus and productively during the day.

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Here are tips on managing that overactive email inbox so you too can focus on what is most important in your business.

1. Get Organized

Set up folders for all the emails that you need to keep so you have an effective way to file and store email rather than leaving them in your inbox.

2. Turn off notifications

Notifications are constant disruptions to your day.

Reading an email takes longer than just a few seconds. Therefore you must completely shift your focus to that email and away from the project you’re working on. An email requires you to read it, make a decision, take action or file the email away for later, then refocus on what you were doing before the email came in.

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Every time you disrupt your focus, it’s harder for you to complete the task at hand in an efficient and effective manner.

3. Have an Emergency Plan

My clients know that if they need an urgent response than they can reach me via text message or they can call me. Email gets responded to within 24-48 hours. Not every email is urgent, but a lot of times we treat every email like it is which takes your energy away from your priorities.

4. Unsubscribe

Scrub your inbox by deleting and unsubscribing to newsletters and email lists you don’t actually read. Stop hoarding newsletters and emails you’re never going to read later because if you don’t have time to read it now, chances are you are not going to read it when it’s “old”. Give yourself permission to say “I had very good intentions when I kept these but I will never have time to read them and it’s time for them to go.”

5. Mass Delete

Control all – delete is a beautiful thing. I do this every so often for any email I haven’t read or filed for the last six months, which usually means that the chance of me actually reading it is slim to none.

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6. Use your Mobile Device

Learn how to reply using your smart phone and if you have an iPhone then use the VIP function to easily scan messages from key contacts, customers and or employees. This way you’ll be able to quickly sort through the volume and find what’s important.

7. Take Action Once

As soon as you read and respond to an email, it should be deleted or archived. This will leave your inbox with nothing but a manageable number of new emails or those that still need your attention.

I have a folder in my inbox specifically for items I need to take action upon or respond to. This allows me to quickly go to one file and respond to current outstanding requests.

8. Schedule Time for Email

Don’t check your email every 5 minutes. Schedule a couple of times a day to scan, respond, and manage email. Give yourself a time limit and you will be amazed at how much you can get done.

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9. Auto-responders

Use “Out of Office” responders when you are on vacation or out for a day. This lets those emailing you know that you aren’t ignoring them and they will be a priority for you when you return.

10. Time and Place

Be aware of the disruption email can be creating for the important relationships in your life. Checking your email in the evening is fine, so long as it isn’t interfering with your life outside of work.

We have all had someone check email on their mobile device when we are talking to them and felt the sting. Don’t deliver this sting to others.

11. Hire Help

If you can’t manage email yourself than you can hire someone to help you. Find someone who can manage your inbox and respond to email for you.

To win the war on the over bombarded email inbox, make a plan using the 11 tips above and see how your productivity on what’s truly important increases drastically.

Featured photo credit: White Workspace with MacBook/Viktor Hanecek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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