Most inboxes in today’s digital-rich, information-saturated world are bursting at the seams. Think of all the time you spend replying to emails as soon as they pop-up, deflecting your attention and taking you away from revenue-generating tasks.
So, to curb the email overload and boost results in the work place, follow these five tips from Australia’s leading email and workplace productivity expert, Steuart Snooks.
1. Control WHEN you check your email
The #1 solution to curb email overload is to set aside time for WHEN you check your inbox.
You will be far more productive checking emails in set, scheduled time blocks instead of every few minutes which creates interruption and causes you to multi-task.
Did you know that multi-tasking is only possible when a task is so familiar and routine it becomes almost unconscious? This is because multi-tasking requires two separate areas of the brain competing against other, causing cognitive overload. So if you want to really focus, you can only switch between tasks.
Block out two, three or four time slots in your calendar each day to check emails. It will let you single-task your responses, make better decisions and write quality responses.
2. Turn off email alerts
This reduces distraction and lets you conquer emails in the set time blocks you scheduled.
What about urgent messages?
It’s a valid concern, but there are so many other ways to convey an urgent message including instant messaging, SMS or a phone calls. So, the third part of this strategy is to:
3. Manage other people’s expectations
Switch on an automated email response advising that you only check emails at certain times of day, and let recipients know how they can reach you urgently, whether it’s by text or phone call.
An example of an automated response you can use is:
|Thank you for your email. In an effort to manage my workload and my attention, I’m implementing a new approach to checking and responding to emails.
I will now be checking and replying to emails at the following times on weekdays – 9:30am, 12 noon, 3:00pm and 4:30pm.
I greatly value your time and trust this new approach will help you get the most out of me.
If the matter is urgent, please do not hesitate to send me a text or call my mobile.
You can also add a PS to your signature block like:
P.S. I’m not always at my desk but I do check email three or four times per day. If your issue is urgent, please call me on xxx.
If you communicate that people can still reach you with urgent messages, they will soon adapt to your new, more effective way of working.
Yes, there are a few exceptions
While best practice is to check emails at three or four planned times a day, there are many who feel they have to check it more often. In those cases, still check email at set times, only more frequently.
The key is still to go to your inbox and ‘single-task’ your email then get out.
You can also set up a rule that has all email alerts turned off except from selected people. This works well for anyone in a very time-sensitive role like customer service front liners and PA/EAs who need to be available to their manager 24/7.
Controlling WHEN you look at email is the first of three key strategies for mastering email, as explained in the WWW of Mastering Email Overload presentation (available as a 60-90 minute presentation or webinar).
And these strategies can be unpacked and implemented in a ‘Taming the Email Tiger'' workshop or Email Coaching program. Using Bartercard dollars for professional development such as this is a great way to generate improved productivity and greater outcomes for your business.
It’s been 44 years since email was first used and the best ways to manage it have been well researched . . . but not well implemented. It’s time to restore email to its rightful place as a facilitator of improved workplace productivity rather than a hindrance to it. Steuart Snooks would be delighted to partner with your business to make this happen.
Email & Workplace Productivity Expert
Solutions for Success
Phone: 1300 789 468
Steuart Snooks is Australia’s leading email and workplace productivity Expert, with nearly 20 years’ experience working with a wide range of private businesses, public sector agencies and not-for-profit organisations.
He has developed a series of workshops, presentations, webinars, coaching and associated resources that will show you and your team the highly practical and easily implemented best practice skills, techniques and strategies for managing e-mail.
What you learn could change the way you work . . . forever!