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3 Ways to Tame the E-mail Monster

Ever get messages that make you want to reach through your computer and choke someone? For me, this would include occasions where people e-mail me in the morning and by afternoon are sending another e-mail asking why I haven't responded yet. It happens to me all the time, no exaggeration. No one has done it to me today probably because everyone knows I just got back from vacation and am plowing through mail and an assortment of other things.

Last week while I was away my friend Melissa Kelly graciously stepped up to handle my blog and Facebook for me. I know you may wonder, "why do you need someone to handle your facebook? Has facebook become so important you need someone to manage it while you are on vacation?" The fact is that blog traffic is very dependent upon facebook updates and I wanted my guest bloggers last week to get the most traffic possible. These ladies had something really important to say and I wanted everyone to be aware of it. So I asked Melissa to post url's for my blogs on Facebook and keep up with any comment moderation necessary.  So Melissa "took over" my blog and facebook Monday morning and by the afternoon before our cruise ship had even set sail, I had this message from her:
"BTW when I posted the [blog] link this afternoon to the post today and the news feed comes up and shows how many messages you have...WOW!! I knew you were in high demand but WOW! You had at that time like 99 messages. Goodness. Glad you posted that I am posting the links for you! You are a highly sought after woman! You can trust that I will only be on long enough to post the links and answer if needed any comments. Love you!"
The reality of the insanity of my inbox hit me even more having someone else point it out. Honestly, I thought for a moment about having Melissa pose as me and answer as many of my e-mails as she wanted to save me time when I got back.  Ha ha! But since she's the mother of four young children, and holds multiple roles in her own life, that clearly was not a viable option.  Having her do just what I asked her to do in the beginning was a huge favor.

Ninety-nine. 99. NINETY NINE. Ninety-freakin-nine. 

This was on Facebook alone, by 1:00 PM. I shared in another post that between several e-mail accounts and multiple jobs, and Facebook, I usually get about 300 pieces of mail a day. 

I handle them all.
By myself.

I haven't had an assistant for two years. 2. Two. T-W-O. 2! 2! 2! T------W-------O.

But who's counting? I'm not complaining, at least in this post, but I am stating fact. [sigh] I manage my email and and most everything with the help of a few volunteers that are absolutely worth their weight in gold.  When I meet someone new and they ask me what I do in life I say, "I juggle."

Quite honestly there are days I hit a wall when someone emails me at 1:00 PM as a follow up to a 9:00 AM e-mail that says, "I emailed you this morning and I still haven't heard from you yet. Is there something wrong with your account? I just needed to know the answer..." [insert scream here] 

Okay, this rant is a purposeful one. It's not just to sound off about my mail issues. (By the way, I have a general rule, to answer it all within 24 hours, unless I'm on vacation.) 

Here are 3 things that help me tame this monster. 

1) Delete junk first

Junk includes forwards, and most newsletters I never subscribed to. Now, some things I never subscribed to, but I actually want to read. These would include ministry friends newsletters and things like that, when they have added me to their list. If it's a friend's communique, I don't delete. But when an insurance company or phone company sends me something, I delete.  And I usually take it one step further...

2)  Take time to unsubscribe each week

I go through once a week to permanently unsubscribe from publications or lists I have not subscribed to and have no interest in. I take about 15 minutes a week to go through all folders including SPAM and unsubscribe from these and I notice it helps volume of mail the next week. I also go through my Facebook inbox and "leave the conversation" of anyone sending me mass e-mails about putting my bra or panties color on my Facebook status to support breast cancer, or sharing where I put my purse in support of the same. I give financially to breast cancer awareness however I don't have time for these e-mail games and conversations. I also don't participate in things like recipe exchanges or chain letters of any kind.

3)  Touch it once.

I answer mail when I open it. I don't table it for later. I open it, and answer it. Unless something requires a more thoughtful response and the creation of a "special" e-mail of sorts. In that case it's still high priority to get it done in 24 hours and get it off my plate.

I hope this helps you in taming the e-mail monster. It still won't stop the clueless person from asking you why you haven't answered their e-mail since it's been a whole 2.5 hours since they e-mailed you. But it will help you.

And what does it help me to do most? It helps me to get to the people that I really want to converse with. That's never an irritation, in fact it's one of the sweetest parts of life! Today I shared 7 brief inbox exchanges with my dear friend Kristy, and it's been the nicest thing that's happened to me all day. Well, that and sharing lunch with my husband. E-mails like this are never a burden, they are a blessing. But in my experience, you have to clear out the junk to get to the blessings.


Melissa said…
I WAS totally amazed at how many FB messages she had. Amazing! PD I was honored that you trusted me enough to access your personal page. Last weeks guest posts were fantastic and informal! <3 you!

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