I love email. It’s like passing notes in middle school, except this time everybody is literate and it’s a lot more interesting to read. Plus there is usually no suspense about whether someone likes me or not.
The problem is, I’ve fooled around and worked a whole bunch of people into my daily rotation. Much as I adore them, staying in touch can be incredibly time-consuming and it’s multiplying exponentially. At this point I could easily lose my entire workday simply answering emails (again, also like sixth grade when I tried to lose algebra by writing notes the whole time).
I’m looking for balance. Although email is recent technology, really it is just the old Phone Call At Work in sheep’s clothing. I must think of it that way and not write the finely crafted endless email replies I long to; otherwise I shall drown in a steady sea of FWDs: and You’ll Like This and OH My God, He and What Do You Think…?
Fun as it is, a day is still as finite as ever. And you have to prioritize. Recognize email for the delightful little addictive drain it is. Life coaches often advocate checking email twice a day for important messages only and then answering it at a designated time once a day. It’s good discipline.
- Keep messages that require a response in your In Box and donâ€™t clear the message until that action is complete.
- Set mail preferences to delete messages on exit (you can lose time wandering through old stuff nostalgically).
- Print what’s important and quickly move the message to delete or archive.
- Practice the art of non response; more messages than you think can be safely ignored.
- Keep it simple and short (mostly). One paragraph, max.
- Consciously choose your pen pals, rather than uh, being chosen.Â Did we say that diplomatically enough? You know the offenders in your life.
- Have several formatted emails that you know by heart ready to go – the touch base, the I haven’t heard back from you on that thing yet prod, the discreet let’s take that discussion out of my work email and into a web based situation.