Are You Suffering from Death by Email?

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Last month I carried out a poll of my wonderful Athena Thame group as to what their biggest admin pain was – what took the most time or gave them a headache.

“DEATH BY EMAIL” was the top vote by far!

It can suck the time out of our day, slowly draining us of our will to live but why? Because we don’t take control from the start. We ignore it in the hopes the emails will answer, file or delete themselves. The worse it gets the more we can’t face trying to go through it.

I have a client who, fabulous as she is (and you know who you are!!), has the worst Inbox in the world. It makes me shiver. It is in the thousands. Nothing I did in the past brought it under control because when I left she just ignored it and they built up again. She laughs at my reaction every time I have to look in it, but it’s not one of the services she requests me to provide so I just grit my teeth and dive in.

So here are 8 top tips to help you on your way. Even if you only try one, email life will get easier:

  1. Keep your personal and business emails separate – you can easily miss a vital business enquiry if overloaded with chain emails from friends and family who want to gain good luck from forwarding it to 10 of their friends in half an hour. Set up a hotmail account for them to send to if you really like receiving them.
  2. Setup email templates for responses to sales enquiries and other regular requests. Don’t waste time writing them from scratch every time.
  3. Have an allocated time of day to check your inbox – whether you do it twice a day or every two days, get into a routine and work methodically through it in order.
  4. Setup rules so emails that you don’t need to see in your inbox are moved automatically to a folder.
  5. Unsubscribe from all those newsletters you don’t need.
  6. Don’t get distracted, stick with the task in hand and don’t wander of into Twitter or the internet because you’ve clicked on a link on someone’s signature.
  7. Check the level of your Spam filter.
  8. There are the 4 D’s of decision making that you need to apply to each email – Do It, Delegate It, Defer It or…DELETE IT!

I found out last night that my dad checks his emails once a month. ONCE A MONTH? To most of us that seems like a dream. And the best bit is when he does there are only about 10 emails he has to go through. How has he managed it? My question was “why do you even have an email address then?” He said “Oh I just use it for bits and pieces when I need it and I get a couple of technical emails that I want.”

He also had the foresight to remove himself from the office side of the business, his business partner and Office Manager deal with all the paperwork whilst he works on other requirements of his company. Maybe that’s the only real answer!

Good Luck!

At sign trapped in a cage