They keep telling us that email is an old technology that the kids don’t use. That might be true, but my inbox – and the inboxes of my clients – tell me different. In fact, one of the first things most of my potential clients mention when interviewing me about a Virtual Assistant job is their email. Their Inboxes are battlegrounds of ageing messages, disorganised conversations, and sadness. They use their ‘Deleted’ folders as organisational tools.
1. Stop Checking Your Inbox Like It Delivers a Food Pellet. I used to stop every few minutes to Alt-Tab to my email window and see if any new emails had arrived. Then, I would ignore tedious business emails but open up sales announcements from shopping sights, emails from my brother, or jokes sent from old friends.
Now, I have set times for checking my Inbox: First thing in the morning, and then every two hours until end of business. This means I have two solid hours at a go for accomplishing tasks without allowing myself to be distracted. Well, distracted by emails, at least. I still become distracted by baked goods.
2. Unsubscribe Brutality. I unsubscribed from just about every mailing list I’d joined – and there were a lot of them. Every time I went to a conference, made a connection, or just got interested in something, I’d end up on their email list, and clicking through the endless newsletters and announcements ate up a lot of time every day. I went through and unsubscribed from anything I hadn’t gotten a direct benefit from within the last few months, and realised that described almost all of them. Now my Inbox is a lot cleaner before I do anything else!
3. OHIO. I love acronyms, and this one is a current favourite - Only Handle It Once. I’ve never been to the Midwest United States, but if it’s as efficient as this idea, I’m ready to retire there. This means that when I open an email, I deal with it. No reading it and closing it and then marking it as unread so I don’t forget and then repeating that process six times until three weeks have gone by and now that email has multiplied into six more that need to be deal with.
Now, if I open the email, I handle it. I respond, forward, or perform whatever task it requires. I do cheat sometimes and read subject lines without opening the email, but the commitment to handle it when I open that email has definitely helped me stay on top of things.
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