How many emails do you receive per day? I get about 200 “honest”emails. The rest are spam. That includes proxy emails from social networking as well, like messages coming in from my Linked In network, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. One must think: “How does our attention stay focused on anything to get done if it’s so distributed between email and message retrieving?” We need a better system than “Reactive Email.”
The goal is to get email behaviors from the reactive side to the proactive side. That means getting some controls in place so you can focus on bigger and better things to do such as your personal goals. Let’s look at some easy-to-implement and powerful structures to make this switch.
Timing. When do you answer emails? What time in the day? Do not respond first thing in the morning. The first reason is you’ll tend to overspill email processing time into other agreements you’ve made for the day. It’s like a doctor doing a cancer operation in the morning and finding more cancer than the time allocated for the operation. The more you immerse in our email, the more it’ll suck you into more to do for it. Without a limit on supply, the email demand will rise to fill whatevers there or not there. The second reason is email is an easy escape from what you need to doing but don’t like doing. Prospecting creates call reluctance. Seeking safe refuge in too much email is a great way to harm your sales activity and plummet your numbers. Email fools you into thinking you’re productive when in reality, it’s just more STUFF, not money making activity where the action is. Being busy is one thing, but busy doing what? Major or minor things? The average executive get’s his results from one of seven hours of work time. Email has alot to do with this figure.
Focusing Strategy: Reply to email twice daily, at 12 noon and 4pm. Give yourself the 24 hour rule to process an email. Processing is different than replying. A reply is letting the other person know what you’re doing. You may also be corresponding about a project, following up, or informing someone of something you want via email. All in one place, at these two times do “email work”.
Processing. Processing means dispatching email between four options: deleting, doing, delaying, delegating. Most of the email you receive you actually won’t look at again. 80% of what you have in your inbox won’t hurt you to delete. Hit it! Dump it! Ask if it will hurt you to throw it away, if NO, then delete! If you DO the item, then use the two minute rule. If it’s within two minutes, DO it, handle it. If it’s not, create an ACTION folder underneath your inbox, and drag the email over to it until you’ve scheduled yourself to handle email. That way it’s out of sight, out of your inbox. Delegation is simple. If using Outlook, drag the email down to the task icon and it’ll open a task window. In the subject line name the task and todays date, then describe below what you want done and when. Hit “assign task” up top and email it to the person to do it. Lastly, you could delay the email, do the same thing as delegate, just do not assign it yet. Another way to delegate the email is to CC yourself by simply forwarding the email to the person designated for the task. Create a WAITING folder beneath your inbox and drag the email over it. Make sure you put the task name, the persons initials you’re sending it to, and today’s date in the subject line so you can see quickly when auditing what you’re waiting on others for how long it’s been, and who it went to.
Location. I recommend you NOT process email on your PDA. PDA’s are huge distractions. Use a PDA for calendaring and storing contacts, but not email. When you receive email on your PDA you’re saying that you’re accessible all the time no matter what you’re doing. Access does not equal success. That should NOT be why others have relationships with you. If this is the case, look to your strengths and personal gifts for better reasons. Plus, you’re setting yourself up to be caught up in something else instead of the moment needing your best attention. It’s like distraction training 101. Instead, keep your email to just your laptop, and curb your emotions to want to check it, ALL THE TIME.
Yes, speed is good, but quality and accuracy is what people really want, because it says how important they are to you. I’d rather have a response someone’s thought about, instead of a hollow email barely examined.
Schedule. Identify the six most important things you want to accomplish today, every day, according to what matters most to you and the action items associated with getting it accomplished. If you don’t have anything more compelling to do, you’ll do what is on the radar, and that’s when email becomes an addiction and traps you. Be careful!!!! Get on offense with a daily structure thematically blocking all your key activities and most important tasks. Otherwise you’re targeted and email’s got your number!