I am a huge fan of continuous improvement, and have significantly improved my life by applying the principles across all aspects of my life. One area, however, refused to be compliant. Actually, truth be told, it did not just lack compliance, it actually wielded a whip that had me sapped of energy every time I encountered it – which was daily. The monster? My email inbox …..
Despite years (over a decade) of different techniques, approaches, methodologies I found myself drowning in an inbox that, on occasions, ran into the 1000’s. I used to say to clients, “If I have not replied within 48hrs, please hit the fwd button and this will pop it to the top of my inbox and I will see you have fwd it and prioritised it.” Besides admitting my inability to control my in-box all this did was increase the mail I received.
2018 was the year I drew a line in the sand. I saw a lovely quote in an article that said, “Email is other people's priorities for your day.” I laughed in despair. This year, with the help of Kiri, and the below 5 steps I have tamed the monster:
Empty your email – Do not use it as a to-do list. Only open mail you intend to deal with and then decide and act on it. End the day with an empty inbox!
Make folders. You can either have a full-on folder system or a simple one with: Processed, Awaiting response; Block Time work. Once an email is actioned – file it (rules can help with this)
Allocate time to check and clear – master your inbox, do not let it rule you. Use mailbox rules. Overcome your fear of missing out FOMO and unsubscribe from newsletters you do not read.
Involve your team to have block time to clear emails and ideally have an agreed company methodology e.g. Only put people who have to action in the “To” field and FYI in the “CC”. If appropriate, have a PA to help you stay on top of your mail.
Learn what works for you and work it! If you often have to take action on emails use a tool called followupthen
Be radical and take action. This is not a monster that will tamed with half hearted effort – all or nothing.
Best of luck – here’s to your success!