Better manage your email

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to better manage your email….

Is email a burden or a delight to you?

For most people, it’s a burden, taking many hours of time and making us feel as though we never accomplish anything that’s truly useful (or that we want to do.)

Perhaps you’ve heard of the concept of “inbox zero,” wherein you strive to keep your inbox entirely empty? It sounds alluring and aspirational, but I’m inclined to agree with productivity expert Chris Bailey who describes inbox zero as a “slippery, competitive slope.” He adds: “[it] can lead us to think about our email at all hours of the day, obsessively checking and replying to maintain an empty inbox.”

In a recent blog post, under the headline “Inbox Zero is a state of mind,” I like the way Chris redefines inbox zero as a time where, “you are dedicating zero mental space towards thinking about email.” Here are five ways he suggests we can all achieve that goal:

1. Track your email use

If you know how much time you’re spending on the task, and, more importantly, WHY, you should be better able to moderate your behaviour. For example, if you discover that you’ve reached a challenging point in your work then take a break (instead of checking email) and grab a walk or perhaps a snack.

2. Try an email sprint

Set a timer for 10 minutes and get through as many emails as you possibly can. Then turn off email again.

3. Take an email vacation

The length of the vacation (anywhere from a few hours to a few days) is less important that the concept of getting a break from email.

4. Suggest phone calls for longer conversations

If it’s going to take you longer to write the email, then pick up the phone, instead.

5. Send less email

The more email you send, the more you’ll receive. Try to choke it off at the source.

And I offer my own tips on how to manage your email overload, here.


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