Managing E-mails

imagesCA83X7I0Most 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


Actor or Reactor?

imagesCA51GAWSThe Actor: Are you a “player”, the take charge, decisive, creative and forward thinking woman with a10-year plan on her home page? Are you prepared for any emergency, ready to exchange your clothes for a cape and tights in a phone booth at a moment’s notice? (Good luck finding a phone booth!) Are you the professional woman, wife, mother, sister, friend and colleague who is the principle resource for everyone? You are officially on notice because we hate/love you and this internal conflict makes us uncomfortable.

The Reactor: Are you a “responder”, checking the weather report before you continue? Does the forecast determine your plan of action or inaction? Does it require a committee decision to proceed or have you been victimized again by something out of your control? Are you so pre-occupied with what is happening or might happen that you are overwhelmed by the circumstances? You too are officially on notice because we know that your desire to contribute or initiate has been squelched and we want more of you to show up front and center.

Trust or lack thereof appears to be a key element for the actor and for the reactor. It is not always necessary to be at the head of the line, nor is it in our best interest to consistently bring up the rear. In fact, many of us operate somewhere in the middle based on the circumstance and relationship. However, without an assigned role, you can experiment and enjoy the benefits that new behaviors may bring. Freedom and flexibility are two that come to mind immediately.

Are you more often an actor or a reactor?
• Notice your automatic response to a request or situation
• What were your thoughts? Judgments?
• Count to 10 before taking action
• What’s different?
©2014 Maureen Weisner