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5 Ways to Tame the E-mail Monster

I receive between 100-300 emails DAILY.  Between writing, working full time at the church as co-pastor, career coaching, and traveling/speaking not to mention family and friendships, this is probably not an abnormal amount. People who know my schedule often ask me about things having to do with time management.  Today I'm sharing 5 things I do to stay sane on the days my box is closer to 300 than 100 :

1)  Delete first thing every morning.

When I open my inbox each day I delete unnecessary mail and customarily for me this includes all forwards.  I just don't have time for them.  If I receive e-mails from lists I never signed up to be on and don't want to be on, I take a moment to unsubscribe, knowing it will save me time on other mornings to not have to keep deleting that piece of mail.  (I do not delete myself from all lists - if friends have put me on certain valuable things as a courtesy, I stay on them.)  Upon occasion I do get questioned by people who say things like, "Did you get the forward I sent you about the supernatural frog from Mexico that healed people as it hopped by?" and I say, "you know, being that I get a few hundred e-mails a day it's kind of hard for me to keep up with ones like that."  Usually people understand.

2)  Only touch each piece of mail once.


I leave it sitting in my box throughout the day (unopened) until I am ready to answer it.  If I don't have time to answer it right then I don't open it.  I touch mail once, whether it's by email or U.S. Mail.  I don't have time to keep going back to sort through what I have and haven't answered.  So, I open it, answer it, and am done with it.  The only exception to this is the rare e-mail that might be a difficult one requiring some prayer or thoughtful response beyond the norm.


3)  Put responses requiring more time on to-do list, and get them out of the inbox.

If a response takes more time and prayer, I try to answer the person right then saying that their e-mail is under consideration and I'll get back to them asap.  Then I put the response on my to-do list so I don't forget it.

4)  Don't carry e-mail over til' the next day.

I answer it all within 24 hours if possible.  If it piles up from day to day it just feels too overwhelming.

5)  Only answer things that truly need a response

If someone writes me a direct email, requesting a response, I always answer it.  If they just want me to read something to be aware of it, I don't necessary comment on it.  If they ask for a direct answer on something that's just an  FYI type thing I might write back and simply thank them in one sentence for keeping me in the loop.


Hope this helps those of you who have overflowing in-boxes! 

Comments

sandy said…
It's funny, I read this article instead of going through the pile of email!! lol. Okay now I'm armed and ready to tackle the email monster :)
Ha ha ha ha! Sandy, do you know how many times I've read blogs instead of e-mail first? It's because I enjoy reading blogs so much and often groan when I get to my inbox. Notes from friends there, always welcome. Junk mail or more things to add to my to-do list...not so much. :) I feel ya, sista, I feel ya.
Barbie S. said…
Good article. I always love learning new tips to manage my time better. I particularly like the idea of opening only once. That is a big problem for me because I tend to do the opposite. I open them all and then prioritize and go back through. I'm gonna try it this way instead. Thanks!
Melissa Davis said…
I could use MUCH help with numbers 2 and 4, lawd help me - lol

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