It would be surprising to no one if you found me in front of my computer with 8 or more tabs open in my browser. I run a business that focuses on digital marketing and we’re doing well. So it’s not surprising that I need a plethora of online resources to help me conduct my business, is it?
Perhaps it might be surprising that when I find myself getting really busy, the first thing I do to decrease my workload is close browser tabs. Next, I go through and I delete emails. Sure, there may have been valuable information in them. But that valuable information does nothing for me if I can’t achieve the core goals of my business.
Now, of course, I don’t randomly delete emails with no sense of guidance. I target a specific type of email: ones that include things I need to read. Client emails stay. Emails from my business partner are kept. Friends and family get a pass, too. But newsletters and blog posts can quickly get the axe if they are distracting me from the work I need to do.
One thing I’ve found is that I produce lower quality work at a slower rate when I’m juggling a myriad of distractions.
It makes sense really. Having all those emails of things I simply HAVE to read and browser windows of things I MUST check out leaves me feeling pressured. I rush. I skim. Nothing gets my full attention. That’s not fair to me and it’s certainly not fair to my clients or my partner. So I delete. I close browser windows.Â Then I breathe a sigh of relief and move on to the items that really drive things forward.
I’d love to hear your thoughts: how are you managing your email so that it doesn’t get out of hand?
Just last week, I gave my e-mail system a complete overhaul. I deleted old folders and their messages and started anew with a brand new system. I assigned rules so that blogs I read all land in one folder, freelance activity lands in another (sub-categorized by the publications for which I regularly contribute), and social media updates land in a third. I also set aside a folder for e-mails that come from my blog address, as these are mostly lame PR pitches that I can ignore and delete. All of this has allowed me to better manage my e-mail and decrease clutter in my inbox so much better than I was before. And I may yet find other ways to sort and weed – I’m still playing around with the new system and figuring out what would work best. And yes, I feel much less stressed about my e-mail now. 🙂
Have you tried any email apps? They’re all the rage right now and I can’t tell if they’re just one more thing to manage, frankly.
Email is my biggest demon. I dislike having a cluttered inbox. I do my best to label things as soon as they come in. Anything that needs a reply gets dealt with in my first round of emails when I wake up. Blogs, newsletters, etc can hang out until I have time. Sometimes they get deleted entirely because I just don’t have time to deal with it.
Blogs are increasingly high on my delete list. They’re not enjoyable if they’re just stressing me out by sitting there.
Do you deal with email only at certain times of day?
I do only deal with email at certain times of the day. In the morning when I get up, around lunch time, and before I shut down for the night. I click over occasionally to see what’s going on and if something has come through that looks important, I’ll take care of it, but mostly, I focus on work and getting that done. The blog posts won’t go anywhere if I don’t get to them the second they hit my inbox.
Email causes me so much stress. My husband and I started a new website (with a few friends) just to see how it all works. I started out as a hobby but has turned into a business venture. It’s real. We get so many emails from everywhere. It is all consuming and adds so much pressure to respond and stay connected.
I know exactly what you mean. There can be a lot of pressure to respond quickly and well. Email can feed on itself and I’ve found that in order to have a productive day, I need to dedicate specific times to answering emails so I can actually get things done.
Hope you guys are enjoying this exciting time with your new venture!