Clear the inbox, or create the dream?

Email statistics reveal the average office worker will receive 121 emails every single day.
In 2019, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received daily, which has an increase to a whopping 347.3 billion by 2022. Email is the biggest distraction to making forward progress in daily productivity. The executive typically gets 1 out of every 7 hours of productive goal-centric time in a given work day, which is pathetic! Getting the tyranny of the email monster under control is a must!
This year, 81 percent of small businesses said that they still rely on email communication as their primary acquisition channel, with 80 percent saying they also rely on email for retention.
Most professionals (approximately 63%) still consider email to be the best communication tool for their needs.
On average, professionals check emails 15 times a day, and 3 hours per day is spent on sending and receiving emails.
144 out of the 200 emails an office worker receives each day are irrelevant to them.

The “TERD”

In my family, we call behavior that’s negative or just downright pity party-ish: “The TERD”. Terds are the downers of the party, the naysayers of the new, the needy, the controlling, the time-bandits, and the ones who need the world to change for them to be in good status. Their mouth is shaped like an invert U sloping downward, not a normal one grinning ear to ear. We all have had TERDS in our life at one time or another. In fact, we both have them right now.

I can say this with certainty because you have a dream you’re pursuing, and when you’re taking action toward it, TERD generation is inevitable. You will experience them as a byproduct of creating what you want. But I also know that you like to have an empty email inbox, don’t you? You dream of having less stuff to do, less paperwork, fewer to-do’s, all the emails phone calls and stuff. You imagine the day when these mad dogs will stop barking in your eardrum.

Herein lies a conflict between two desires: clear the inbox, or create the dream. One is pseudo work, the other is impact work. I get sometimes over 300 emails per day. I could start in the morning and work on email until 12 noon if I wanted to. Yet, my dreams are more important to me. Goa-centric behavior must get into my day or I’m going in circles. What’s the answer? Priority management. I have to be willing to pay the price to create my dream by declining the allurement of the vortex of stuff.

What muddy’s things up are two underlying concepts(beliefs): Accessibility equals success, and Approval equals peace of mind. We become conditioned to be accessible with our time and don’t notice how we lower the draw-bridge to intruders. And second, we avoid punting them because we don’t want to confront someone or earn a bad opinion of ourselves. You’d rather keep your TERDS quiet to have a short-term moment of jubilee than have a long-term dream come true. This is motivation out of scarcity and control, which conceal your ultimate freedom. You think response time is your silver bullet but it’s an illusion.

Your amazing personal brand to come through and be reliable and credible actually trumps your ability to create long-term goals. Be honest. Deep down this is a conflict between image and effectiveness, or pretense and success. Are you willing to take a serious look at letting go of these fears: isolation and confrontation? It’s a big question to ask yourself? And what risks are you taking by NOT letting these go?

Being accessible is like being a doctor on call. You might as well drive an ambulance. Your life balance rests in the hands of the world. It’s a choice you make to bet well-being on circumstances. It’s up to you as to how you choose to orient your life. I suggest you choose to become the predominant creative force in your life. Your dream is more important than having an empty inbox.

Consider this for a moment: Don’t answer emails first thing in the morning. Schedule two periods per day to answer emails on offense. Does this scare you? Walk into the fear; it’s what you need to do. Answering emails when you decide to will help you process the meaning of each email properly instead of it getting out of control and interfering. If you’re answering emails all the time you’re egging in your crowd to keep throwing dodge balls at you. Immediate responses beget immediate response timing. I call this “Email on a Whim Syndrome” EWS. Scheduling it is an “Email Control System” ECS. Answer the emails when you schedule a time to do so, but furnish the reason why you’re doing so. You want to give quality attention to people out of respect, not some sudden flurry of blurry answers that are unclear and incomplete. Short answer emails waste the time of others. And they feel misunderstood and unimportant anyway. Short emails attract TERDS.

Being overwhelmed is when too many things have equal meaning. Not every email will be as urgent or important as the others. And not every email will be handled the same way. As you answer your emails, apply the “4 D’s model.” Dump it, Do it, Delegate it, Delay it. The key is the email must go into one of these drawers.

  • DUMP
  • DO
  • DELEGATE
  • DELAY

Pileups and log jams in the inbox are a result of delayed decisions. You must put the email in one of these four “D’s” when you process them.

Step 1: Will it hurt me to throw this away. Scan your email starting with the first unread ones when you answered last. If you’ve been out a few days, start from the day you left. Delete spam first, then others that won’t hurt to dump.

Step 2: If it will hurt to throw it away, ask yourself, “can I do this in 2 minutes?” If you can, handle the email, because it’ll take you a lot longer to look it up later and handle it. If not, then create an “@Action” folder, it’ll auto-place itself under your inbox if in Outlook. Drag emails over that you will handle longer than 2 minutes. Then, either schedule a time block for “returning email” at 12 and 4pm, or handle these after you’ve gone through the next steps.

Step 3: If not doing it yourself, then Delegate it

If you delegate it, CC yourself the email you’re sending to the person to handle it, and drag it over to a @WAITING folder you’ve set up. It should auto-place itself under the @Action folder. When you set up a forward to task someone with this, in the subjective line: “name of file/client/task”. Initials of the one you’re tasking this too, and today’s date and time. This way you’re able to keep a tab on what you’ve deployed to others and are hovering on either lightly or intensely. When you forward it, the CC to yourself will come immediately into your inbox, just drag it over.

Step 4: If not delegating it, delay it.

Put it in the tickler file to get attention within a 30-day span. Drag the email down to the clipboard icon on the left, with the check box marked in it, and a task window will open. Mark a date to address it. Set up a reminder for yourself. This get’s this out of your sight and mind to refocus on what’s next.

Step 5: For all “Sundown” tasks that parachute in which must be done by 5 pm end of day…

On your 5-day week in Outlook calendar, scroll up, just above 12 am is a blank space. Left-click once and type. You can put an immediate event there. Type whatever flies into your domain without expecting it, and write it down there to keep a tab on what MUST be done by sundown. Tomorrow review this list and carry over any unfinished items that still need completion and polish.

STOP! I’ve just presented to you a field-tested method and game-plan for bypassing your accessibility urge and need for approval, to have your dreams come true. You now have a way to control the flood of emails that rip off your dreams! But you must use it! Do you see a clear way forward here? Is your mojo up right now? Hold onto your hat, there’s more…Let’s look further into the approval piece.

Remember, there are two kinds of people in the world: GIVEN UPS and GROWN UPS. Grown-ups are those that hold steady to their most important dreams and aspirations, while GIVEN UPS give up. They’re the compromisers of the world who outlaw others’ dreams with judgment, fear, and cynicism. These enemies you will meet in pursuit of your dreams. Let go of your fear of isolation. You will never be alone. People come and go throughout your life; it is part of the natural order of your evolution and life journey.

Simple fact: TERDS WILL BE TERDS. You can’t change them; you live with them and in spite of them, as you position yourself toward more dominant, exciting, and bigger horizons that matter to you. Like Freddy Crouger, you can’t force out a TERD. Creating your dreams will outgrow TERDS, and eventually, they’ll stop their stalking when they realize they have nothing to grab onto, only themself. You’ve got bigger business to attend to than quiet your TERDS.

You might also realize that the primary TERD is you, and has been as you’re reading this. The TERD is your fear.

But how about those emails?

You’re probably so accessible that you’re taking three more calls or emails in that you send out. If that’s the case, then your day is besieged by reactions, instead of getting control of your priorities and remaining goal-centric in your actions. To remedy this, consider your intake process for help/service/sales requests. You may need a filter to profile the request, and insulate yourself from low priority non-urgent items that ambush your best use of time.


Strategic Direction: Setup the emergency room model with an intake system for filtering and dispatching help requests. Just like a hospital, a nurse performs an initial assessment as a lens or filter for the emergency room, to determine who to call for help and how to help the patient. This way the patient wins, and the right doctor responds to the right issue efficiently.


To get started, you’ll need use a single maintenance day (24 hour thematic work period) to work on your business and setup this system. Please schedule this day now, and gather up your team to help you implement.


Step 1: Make a VIP list of the top 10 clients that you should drop everything and take their call when they need help. These accounts and individuals will affect your future most and should be given urgency as well as vital importance in your response to them.
Give this list to your support staff to keep handy when they’re taking incoming calls.

  • Anyone not on this list shouldn’t be getting through the steel curtain.

Step 2: Make an Instructional Voicemail to free you up. Use your voice mail as a tool to gather the right data from a voicemail call.
Change your outgoing phone voice message to this:


“Thank you for calling. If you’ve heard this before, bypass this message by hitting the # key. Due to a high level of demand for our services, these messages are checked once daily, and calls will be returned within 48 hours, after 3pm weekdays or (between x and x on x days), to ensure the highest quality of service and attention to our clients. If this call is urgent, for faster response, please email urgent(company name)@(yahoo; gmail) or xyzcompany.com. In your message please give specific details as to the purpose of your call and the best time to reach you.” Most often, our world class account managers have the right attributes and expertise to suit your needs better than I do..(deflect here)

For processing, contact Sheri at (phone) ext. X
For customer service, contact Donna at (phone) ext. X
For underwriting contact Julie…
For X, contact Y.

*Note: Always try to centralize multiple message touchpoints into one format, such as email or fax. When put in writing, it slows the sender down to think about what they want, instead of voice. Voice messages tend to miss the detail levels to lessen the “tagging” that so often occurs by phone messages when contact isn’t made”. Fax or email slows down someone to consider in one shot what they need and why. It induces an easier interaction with less effort for both parties.

  1. Delegate your assistant to retrieve all the urgent@xyzcompany.com emails and sort them for you. Only forward the ones on your VIP list.
  2. Set up an auto response on your john@xyzcompany.com email that says: in the Subject: Thank you for your email.

Due to a high level of demand for our services, we process emails once per day and ensure a response within 24 hours. We do this to ensure the highest quality of service to our clients and patrons. If your message is urgent, please email urgent@….. or contact the person best at handling your needs: (then deflect)For processing email Jennifer at (email address)
For customer service email Donna at (email address)

  1. Setup an auto response on your urgent@xyzcompany.com…email that says: Thank you for your urgent email. We are now processing it and will respond by 5pm today. If after 5pm, tomorrow by 12 noon. We do this to provide the highest quality of service to our clients and patrons. Thank you for your continued teamwork!

4. If urgent, trying having clients or staff text you, otherwise email if not.

Step 3: Organize your Intake Rotation. Break down three sections during the take for intake call/email activity – morning, mid-day, and afternoon-early evening. Determine whose going to be on deck dedicated to the intake protocols. Setup call forward on the phones of others who are not “active”, so the designated person on-call is the reception area for service calls and active response-giving.

  • Retrieve the call
  • Ask the purpose of the call
  • Advocate a next step

Enter the note/message into a system where team-members can retrieve it (an email is most basic)

  • Notify person needing to act, if not yourself
  • Write clear instructions and expectations

Step 4: Schedule a “return call” block 1-2 periods daily for offense-centric return call activity. Make it a focused work habit to stay in the lanes of these return call times and exercise your self-control muscle outside these bounds—no fowls!!! Be strict about it! You’re better to have a few calls go to voicemail and stay on purpose instead of being reactive and responsive and having zero traction on your priorities during the day you’ve structured your time and attention around.


Step 5: Setup a decision-making flow with 4 options in response to incoming service calls.
Delete it. It’s not worth the effort. Decide to negate it.

  • Delegate it. Relay it to the appropriate team-mate with a unique ability and/or work description correlated with the call purpose.
  • Delay it. Schedule a call back or next step and let the other party know when and how, to settle their expectations.
  • Do it. If you can handle it in two minutes, handle it. Putting it away later may take longer to rethink or remember what’s involved, so consider the two minute rule and handle it, especially if it’s 1) what you’re best at, and 2) something that gives you energy doing it.

Create dreams for a living, it’ll give your mind better instructions than something to avoid.

The Daily 6

If you enjoyed this email, you’ll also enjoy this FREE offer for being a great HLP Patron of our media posts. Use The Daily 6 to regain control and defeat the tyrannical email monster.

“Making 20% of your day goal-centric, doing the significant few things that matter most, gives you back 80% of the value of your time invested. It is a progressive imbalance that leads to balance. This is called “the Domino Effect.”

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