We all have a love-hate relationship with email. In fact, that relationship is scientific. It turns out that we all release a little bit of dopamine when we get a new email. It feels good, it’s addictive.
Too many of us are addicted to email, hanging on until we get that next email, that next push notification, that next pop-up saying we have a new message. This needs to change.
In my job, I typically get asked “Have you got my email yet?” Those six words send chills down my spine. My typical response is, “No, I’ve been working.” No apologizes, no explanations. This response says that you’re working on other things – not waiting for your inbox to refresh.
To get your best work done, you need to focus. Multi-tasking is a myth. Here are 6 great things you can do to kill the email monster and manage email:
- Turn off all notifications. Period. No push notifications on your phone, no pop-ups on Outlook. Let’s do some simple math. Let’s conservatively say you get 50 emails a day and get a pop-up notification for each one. It take about 5 seconds to look at each pop-up and get focused back to your work (it’s probably more like 10 seconds). That works out to be about 40 hours a year you spend checking pop-up notifications. Whoa. Stop it now.
- Batch like tasks. If I can go through 600+ emails in an hour after a weeklong vacation, why do I spend so much longer every day in my email client? Simple – because I’m not grouping like tasks. Check your email 3 times a day (morning, noon and afternoon) and see how it changes your life.
- Worried that you’ll miss something? Check out AwayFind, It is an incredible set of tools that allow you to get push notifications on certain criteria. Want to know when your boss emails you? You can push those messages. Want to get emails from people you have meetings with, in case they want to reschedule or change locations? You can push those messages. Check it out.
- Don’t set unreasonable expectations for returning email. Even if you can return email at midnight (and that’s the only free time you have), don’t send the message then. People will think you are trying to be a martyr or expect that all the time. Neither are good. Save the emails as drafts and send when you get in the office at a reasonable hour.
- Your email inbox isn’t your to-do list. Go through your email and put the items that take longer two minutes to respond to into a to-do list. Keeping messages in your inbox will only force you to read your email more, keeping you distracted. I use Things for Mac.
- Unsubscribe from all of your stupid email newsletters (and use Otherinbox). I realized a couple of months ago I got WAAAAY to many email newsletters. I started unsubscribing to most of them. I also use Otherinbox to have all my non-human emails go into their own folder.
What else do you recommend to manage email?