The Top Three Email Time Traps Answered
In a previous blog post, I mentioned the history of email (back to 1971). Obviously, since then, it has exploded into the preferred method of business communication. It’s going to continue to grow well into the future. It’s the only communication medium virtually everyone can access and share multimedia and other types of content. Email has several problems, but I will call out the three email time traps that can derail an otherwise effective day.
The Three email Time Traps Defined
Your Day Down the Drain – Email the Distraction Machine
According to Inc.com, it takes 23 minutes to recover from a distraction on average. I think it could be longer, but with attention deficit disorder, that might be just me. These distractions come from having notifications turned on and over-checking email. Pro-tip, turn off notifications and schedule time to process email into your schedule. When not working in email, close your email app on all devices. I know this can be scary, but you could also use your vacation responder to let people know you’ll check your email in a couple of hours and get back to them.
Finding That Conversation, You Know is There
Keeping the thousands of email conversations organized can be a real challenge. A great way to stay organized and on top of your email inbox is to treat the inbox as a holding area for unread messages. When you process email, handle those that only take a few moments and those that need more work, put them in a folder, or apply a Gmail label that flags them for more work. Sometime throughout the day, review this location to take action to resolve these. Working this way, you’re almost assured that nothing falls through the cracks.
Thoughtful Action is Missing
We’ve all had long emails that don’t say too much. Thoughtful action in composing your email speeds the interaction along. Think of what you’d like to have happen when sending an email, and be very clear in how you explain this outcome. True confession, I tend to get too wordy and now rely heavily on Grammarly to help me compose essential emails. Some ways you can utilize thoughtful action:
- Specify a desired reply date and time
- Be specific about what project or initiative you’re working on and how the feedback you seek is critical to moving forward.
- If an email conversation starts going off the rails, send an email that refreshes the original goal of the conversation.
A Few Other Helpful Tips
- Unsubscribe. While this can be a daunting challenge with the volume of email we receive, it is still a valuable use of your time and, over time, makes a difference.
- In today’s changing workplace, awareness of intergenerational communication is critical to success. The reality is you may be interacting with up to three distinct generations of co-workers.
- Using the delay send feature. In Gmail, this is called undo-send and has saved me several times. It allows you to cancel sending an email within a preset time. I have the setting at 30 seconds to give me as much time as possible to be sure that the email I just sent is appropriate.
Email can be a valuable tool for communicating with others. It seems it will be the preferred communication method in business for the foreseeable future. With a little effort working in email can be fun and effective again. In the Total Effectiveness System, we spend one segment on email alone, going over several processes to save time and be more effective in email. The next course is launching on Tuesday, September 6th, for six weeks at 1 pm PST. If you’d like to stay in the loop, click here to register for updates. You can always reach out to me here at this link.
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