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Why Email isn’t Broken, We Just Need Something New

Why Email isn’t Broken, We Just Need Something New

There has been a big buzz on the web lately about the email system being broken. I think this is because people don’t use email for what it was intended–message transmission from one person to another. Today, many people also use emails for:

  • Personal to-do lists
  • Events management
  • Task management
  • File tracking
  • Marketing

I’m sure we could find dozens of other uses that people have for email, but the truth of the matter is that emails don’t provide an efficient solution to any of these points. Emails were intended to send messages. They do that extremely well. Have you ever lost an email? Have you ever had an email that has never arrived to its user? No. The only reason why you would have those issues is because you misspelled the email, forgot to CC it to the right people or it landed in the spam box. The system is amazingly reliable across all your devices and applications. You’ve been using it for YEARS–why change?

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So, what’s the problem?

144 billion emails were sent last year–per day. The problem, as mentioned above, is that people don’t use emails for just emails. The multiple uses of email have instead created situations such as employees spending 28% of their time on email instead of productive work. In addition to that, it’s usually a great source of distractions, with your aunt sending you pictures of her cat or a friend sending you a YouTube link to an epic fail video, or maybe you check it every fifteen minutes under the guise that it’s good etiquette to reply THAT promptly.

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    What can you do about it?

    Well you could:

    • Get more organized using labels and filters (but not many email providers give you that option–and mostly it’s the super-organized among us that actually take the time to do that).
    • Create different email addresses for different people, despite the fact that keeping up with them can get annoying (I know–I have more than a dozen email addresses).
    • Sign up on a bunch of different websites/services that promise to do what you normally use your email service for (Which one? And does it really change anything?).

    The core thing about email is that it’s still irreplaceable. 2.3 billion + people in the world have an email address. It’s well documented, creating it is extremely simple, and it’s free.  What else could you ask for?

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    The bottom line is that complexity causes stress, dissatisfaction and loss of productivity. But because email is so ingrained in our day-to-day existence we can’t imagine working without it. New collaboration tools have to make people feel like they can let go of traditional (yes–traditional!) Internet behavior and maximize the benefits of tools built for to-do lists, tasks, marketing, event managing and so on.

    Why use a spoon to dig a hole when you can use a shovel?

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    Last Updated on September 11, 2019

    Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

    Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

    How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

    Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

    To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

    Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

    Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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    • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
    • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
    • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
    • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

    Benefits of Using a To-Do List

    However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

    • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
    • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
    • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
    • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
    • You feel more organized.
    • It helps you with planning.

    4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

    Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

    1. Categorize

    Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

    It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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    2. Add Estimations

    You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

    Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

    Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

    3. Prioritize

    To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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    • Important and urgent
    • Not urgent but important
    • Not important but urgent
    • Not important or urgent

    You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

    Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

    4.  Review

    To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

    For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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    Bottom Line

    So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

    To your success!

    More to Help You Achieve More in Less Time

    Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

    Reference

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