Changing email habits

A chipmunk and a laptop, because whatever

I decided to examine all the areas in my life where inefficiencies exist. Think of this as my Frederick Taylor approach to life, maximizing my productivity in every area of my existence. First step: email.

As soon as I get an email, I read it. Okay, fine. The problem is that I don’t have time, when I read it, to respond. Next thing I know, I have a number of emails that have been read, but not acted on. It’s time to treat email as a task unto itself, where I read and respond.

I decided to Google the topic. According to “People Skills Decoded,” how often you check depends on how many you get:

The optimum email checking. First of all, I want to detail this answer:

  • If you have a job which requires a lot of email communication, but also a lot of other activities, checking your email twice each day is optimal.
  • If you have one of those jobs which require just a little email communication, once every day is enough.
  • If you have a job in which all/ the vast majority of your activity is reading and answering emails, checking your email 4-5 times every day may be optimal.

That seems reasonable. Let’s go with twice a day. Next, what is the actual process of going through emails? Seems easy enough, but why be simple? This quote from Tucker Cummings:

Scott Scheper checks his email twice a day, and has created a handy flow chart for helping you to blow through all the unread messages in your inbox.

Every time you open a new email, ask yourself 3 basic questions:
1. Is this relevant?
2. Can I solve this?
3. Will it take less than 2 minutes of my time to deal with this?

By following his handy flow chart, you’ll develop a new way to bust through your inbox more efficiently.

So, the next step, is to put this into practice. I set the iPhone to check email once every hour, and I’m not marking messages read until I’ve acted on them. I plan to enact this plan at work, as well. We’ll see how it goes!

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