Hot E-mail Tips for Time Efficiency
By Robyn Pearce
Most people understand, at least intellectually, that a clear desk
equals an uncluttered mind. However, a surprising number don't realise
that the same thing applies to our e-mail Inbox. I recently spotted 1519
messages in a client's Inbox - no wonder she felt overwhelmed! (And her
office paralleled the Inbox - there wasn't a clear centimetre of space
The next week I was back with Helen's organisation. She couldn't wait
to show me her office and computer. She'd implemented some of the ideas
listed below, and we could see the top of her desk, the colour of the
chair covers, and a lot less in her Inbox.
'Robyn,' she said, her eyes sparkling with joy, 'it's as if a
mountain has gone off my back. I feel more relaxed and up-to-date than I
have for years!'
Some you already have great email strategies, but maybe those around
you don't (Feel free to do them a favour - run them off a copy of this
article). One thing I consistently see in the business world is highly
educated professional people who don't have any real understanding of
commonsense paper and information techniques. If they were taught in
schools and universities as a pre-requisite for further education, it
would save many people a great deal of stress in their working lives.
How to run your e-mail
- Treat your e-mail system like a filing cabinet. Set up folders for
every major topic of interest, and sub-folders under key headings. To
create, highlight the heading under which you want the new folder
placed. Then right-click, New Folder, and give a name.
- Never leave read mail in your Inbox for more than a few days. Treat
it as you should handle paper on your desk - if it's worth keeping
move it into a named folder by a click/hold/drag action.
- Develop a low tolerance for a mailbox where you can't see blank
space at the bottom of the page. In most Inboxes that gives you about
12-15 messages to look at, although the size of your Mailbox can be
altered by clicking on the line in the middle of the page and dragging
the line up or down to suit your needs.
- Be prepared to shift mail of long-term interest to folders unread,
and schedule in reading time. One could be entitled 'Newsletters to
read', and another one called 'Web research to do'. Saves you getting
distracted, (a common challenge once we start scrolling) and you can
do your 'further education' at a less busy time.
- Something you mustn't forget, and you're scared you'll loose sight
of it if shifted to an 'Action Pending' file? There are two options,
depending on whether you're visual or not. If you feel happy to get it
out of the Inbox as long as you can find it again when you need it,
use your contact management system or diary of whatever sort (as long
as you're using them regularly) to put an alert on the date you want
to do the action, and where you've filed the message. The electronic
systems are the most reliable - they annoy the heck out of you until
you do something with them! The other option, if you're seriously
visual and panic at the thought of shifting mail out of sight before
it's acted on, is to leave mail in your Inbox that still needs
attention, but keep it minimal. If you've developed the sense of
discomfort we talked about in Point 3, this will help to drive you to
action, and reduce procrastination.
- Be ruthless about deleting e-mails you don't need. Remember -
they're usually only an alternative to a quick phone message.
- Most programmes, unless your company has installed a default, don't
automatically empty the Delete folder. Many people think an item
dragged into Delete is gone. It's not. You almost always have to
instruct it to Trash or Empty. With modern equipment a right-click
gives you that option.
- Store 'Sent' mail as well as 'Received' items in your folders,
putting 'like with like' as you would file paper in a filing
- If it is important to keep a full record of correspondence, save
your 'Reply' rather than the incoming message. Then both parts of the
story are together. The quickest way is to develop the habit of going
to the 'Sent' box as soon as you've dispatched an important mail, and
dragging it immediately into the relevant folder.
- Every month empty your Sent box for as far back as you're
comfortable to delete. Click, hold, and drag any really important
messages and delete the rest. I keep only two months worth of
messages. Most of it will be rubbish.
About the author: Robyn Pearce, of TimeLogic
Corporation, has helped 1000's of folks in 'Getting a grip on their time'.
for FREE subscription to her email that includes "how-to"
practical time management assistance, books, tapes, products, and more.
|An error occurred on the server when processing the URL. Please contact the system administrator. If you are the system administrator please click here to find out more about this error.|