Have you ever gone to yoga class and found yourself on your yoga mat thinking about the email you just checked before you got there? Have you ever tried to fall asleep at night, but couldn’t because you are thinking about the huge to do list you just discovered at 11pm in your inbox? Have you ever been working on a project, but you keep getting distracted by new requests coming through your inbox? If yes, then this post is for you!
Turn off your email alerts and do not check your inbox unless you are ready to process what’s in it.
I only check my email when I am ready to respond to or process the contents of the email. Often people check an email, read the email, move on to the next one, go back to work or whatever, come back later read and the email AGAIN, maybe take care of it, maybe work on something else AGAIN and then the next thing you know you have wasted a bunch of time reading an email multiple times, thinking about it in the back of your mind while it sucks the energy right out of you and possibly even forgetting about the email all together.
When I check my email. the first thing I do is go through and check off emails that are spam or unimportant and delete them. Then I start from the oldest sent email. I open it, I read it. If it is just someone asking a question, I respond to it, delete it and move on. If it is a small enough task that needs to be done, I do the task, hit reply to tell the sender the task is completed, delete it and move on. If it is something that takes more time to do, then I save whatever contents and attachments I need into the project file or program, write a note on my to do list, reply that I received the email, delete it and move on. I do this until my inbox is empty.
If I am unprepared to do any of the above things, then I do not check my email.
I found that when I checked my email on the weekends or after my work hours, I would end up spending mental energy thinking about the email, which would often take away from my quality family, social and alone time. One of the most important things I learned about productivity is that things can wait. That does not mean procrastinating, but it does mean choosing what is most important. Also, I only check my email once or twice a day at work, so I can focus on completing a project while not being distracted by new requests.
Not only has this process saved me time and energy, but it has helped me become much more productive and organized. More effective work gets done and and my clients appreciate the consistent and reliable communication. Most importantly, I have extra time and energy now that I am able to work less, with less stress, while accomplishing more.
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