Most of us cringe at the mention of managing e-mail, save for the occasional person who claims to have it completely under control and with a ZERO inbox. To those outliers, I marvel at their organizational skills and raise a glass to toast this accomplishment.
According to Jocelyn Glei, author of Unsubscribe, the rest of us generally fall into two categories; reactors or batchers. The former constantly monitors messages, whole the latter sets aside specific time to power through them. Because reactors will interrupt the work flow to check messages and respond to e-mails, their other work suffers. Glei suggests devoting 2 or 3 daily time blocks to your inbox and otherwise, keep it closed.
On the other hand, batching all communication doesn’t always work if there are individuals who must be responded to immediately. You can set special alerts on g-mail or your iphone for priority contacts enabling you to concentrate on your work and be responsive as you’ve prioritized your contact list.
E-mail can be a powerful and productive tool while also a distraction and an easy way to get lost and caught up in a feeling of making progress. With a goal of maintaining a zero inbox, you may believe that you are closer to an ongoing accomplishment. Should that be your goal or is it really the completion of tasks that lead to the successful conclusion of a meaningful work project?
If you are a reactor, old habits die hard. This is akin to a Pavlovian response
• Turn off audible alerts to incoming messages (except your VIPs)
• Block 3 times daily for checking e-mails
• Note the difference in your level of anxiety when you are not in responsive mode