Do you know that 3 clients yesterday spoke to me about the problem they are experiencing with email overload. Not that I was particularly surprised at it but it really prompted me to write this article on it.
The reality is that it is a huge problem for people – and at all levels in organizations, from senior managers to clerical administrative staff, and it baffles me why more time is not invested in helping people cope.
One of the saddest statistics that I have come cross in recent times is that less than 20% of employed people worldwide really enjoy their work! I think that is horrendous. They attribute their lack of enjoyment to not feeling involved and being continuously distracted by a series of interruptions in their work, which causes them to feel unfulfilled.
There is no doubt that email overload is a major cause of distraction
The constant checking to see what is there, compounded by many with that dreaded “ping” when a new one arrives totally drives you to distraction.
The honest to God truth is that it is difficult not to look when you hear that pinging sound – it is human nature. But, boy is it a killer to your efficiency and time management.
Trust me I have tried everything to manage it – creating new folders, having different email accounts – you name it and I have tried it, and I have come to the following conclusion:
The only way to manage email overload is to shut the damn thing off!
Now, I don’t mean forever and never look at it again – it would solve the problem at one level, but it would cause others!
No, I mean do not have it on all the time. With best will in the world, you will check it if it is open and pinging away, or even if there is no pinging!
Emil overload can only be managed by restricting the time you access it.
My rule is that I only open my email twice in the day – 30 minutes in the morning, and 30 minutes in the evening.
I split the 30 minutes this way: –
- 10 minutes checking for emails that I was expecting, and if I have not received them, then sending reminders out.
- Another 10 minutes sending out emails to people I need to reach out to,
- Then the final 10 minutes to read what I need to, or file away for later action, or delete. But, you must delete – be tough with yourself!
Then I repeat this in the evening and I can tell you the email overload really does become manageable.
Remember, your inbox is that place you have created for other people’s agendas – do not be a slave to it!
So, how do you cope with email overload? Share your ideas, thoughts or challenges with us below.
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