You don’t let your letter box clog up with hundreds of letters.

Why then do we let our email inboxes clog up?

And the real problem here is

Not only are we allowing our inboxes to get clogged our brains feel clogged too as we log in to this mess on a daily basis

There is so much going on it’s impossible to know where to start…

Ron Friedman, a psychologist who has studied the effects of multi-tasking and task switching in depth says limiting your email checking is key to peak performance!

Fine, but won’t that mean it just gets more clogged?

Well no, it won’t.

If you follow David Allen’s policy for dealing with emails in the most effective manner.

Here’s the secret:

When dealing with an email, have one question in mind – what’s the next action.

Categorize it in one of these five ways to save yourself a lot of time wasting into the future:

  • Delete any useless information (unsubscribe where necessary).
  • File based on person, topic or theme where no action required but info is important
  • Action tasks less than two minutes long
  • Put in an “@Action” folder where the task will take longer or the reply requires some reflection.
  • BCC yourself on email requests you make to colleagues and put in an “@Waiting For” folder.

Whichever of these actions you take get the email out of your inbox after viewing it once.

Rereading emails is a waste of time and mental energy.

One last top tip I heard recently is to never send an email you wouldn’t want circulated. Sometimes drafting two alternative replies can help with this. A stern worded one (to satisfy our animal instincts) and a more diplomatic one.

Come back to it later and more often than not you will know to go for the diplomatic approach.

If you are still incensed it is best to take it up with the person in person in an assertive but not aggressive manner.

Please make sure to deal with your next email appropriately 😉

Declan “Mail Man” Treanor

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