Do you have your email program open all day long? Are you spending too much of your day reading and replying to email? Do you get compliments from business associates and friends on how fast you answered their email?
If you answered any of those questions with a , "Yes," it's time to put email on a schedule.
What do I mean? How can you stop email from coming in all day long?
You can't. But you CAN stop your time-draining habit of reading your email as fast as it comes into your email box.
Email is distracting. Every time you stop doing some other task to take a peek at your email, you are interrupting yourself and slowing your progress on the task you were working on. Worse, you can get so involved in answering the email, or looking at links someone sent you that you don't get back to the task you had been working on for a half hour, hour or more. When you do return to the task, you'll need to spend at least a few minutes to figure out where you left off and what needs to be done next.
Solve the problem and get much more accomplished each day by scheduling specific times of the day to read your email. Each reading session you schedule should have a start time and an end time. If you give yourself a deadline for getting through your email, you'll move more quickly over unimportant mail.
Schedule the first email reading session for a few hours after you start work. That way, you can devote the early morning hours to working on one or more high priority projects. Schedule a second reading session for mid or late afternoon.
If you must read email the first thing in the morning, scan the "from" information and the subject lines and only open and read those emails that are truly important. Wait until later in the day to reply to the less important mail or to check out forwarded links.
To help separate your email more quickly each day, use an alternate email address for newsletters, RSS feeds, and other interesting, but non-essential email. Set up your email program to filter all the mail coming to that alternate address to a separate folder that you'll read after important tasks for the day are done.
Do you have a topic or a question you'd like covered in this column? Send email to comments @ Businessknowhow.com