I’m writing this blog at 9 am tucked into bed with the flu. I started to write it at 7:15 am, but decided on OJ and an episode of American Housewife instead.
In the 45 minutes I procrastinated, I received 74 emails. WHAT?!
Please be clear that I counted the new emails, scanned briefly, and then shut Outlook. Why? Because if I didn’t this article wouldn’t get written this morning – probably not even by end of day. And because if someone really needed me there are at least 3 faster ways they can get a hold of me.
Email is the new snail mail. It’s where un-urgent requests, FYIs, and sales pitches belong, and if you aren’t treating it that way you and your organization could be wasting precious time. Yes, you get enough emails to keep you busy 4-6 hours/day, and if you ignore them all the time they will pile up (you make good points my dear sweet email lover). Alternatively, answering other people’s requests is probably not the most important part of your job, is it?
Our completely normal instinct to deal with something simple that’s in our line of sight is prioritizing other people’s to-do lists over our own.
Here are a few best practices and time-saving tips to take back your day:
- Get rid of email alerts. Immediately. If we can agree that email is NOT where urgent items live (read: it has an imminent deadline), then quit interrupting your current screen with them. Every time the pop-up happens, a part of your brain goes down the rabbit hole until it finally just can’t resist a quick alt-tab to email to take care of it. It only takes a minute, right? Sure! Until you see the next one and the next one…it’s like trying to eat just one handful of popcorn at the movies. Impossible. If we could resist we wouldn’t be in our inbox right now. Kill the alerts. Be present in your current task instead.
- Designate a time for email. There, that may feel better to my GMail addicted friends. 🙂 I do email once a day at the end of the day. True, my assistant cleans it out for me in the morning, so I’m cheating just a little bit. Carve out two hours/day, put it on your calendar, and be strong. It only hurts for a couple of days. You’re not ignoring. You’re prioritizing. You were hired to coach, strategize, lead…not to type.
- Set communication expectations with your team. Have a conversation about what you consider urgent and important tasks and requests. Agree on what task/topic requires an instant message, text, phone, call, drop by, or email. Help team members know when you want to be CC’ed and when you don’t (there’s 50 less per day for you) and help them understand that if they email, they can expect a reply in 2-3 business days. If you choose to reprimand them for “bumping their email to the top” and sending you emails about their emails, that one is up to you. It may also be a great time to let them know when you’ll be doing meetings, coaching, and other activities that may not be interrupted with a minor customer issue or system question.
- Assess in a week. Getting more done? Finding times where you wonder what you should be doing? Getting more rep coaching done? These are good signs. If you find you’ve chewed off your nails and you’re staying at work late to do all the email, your addiction is more serious and I’m sorry for recommending this cold turkey. Try some of these gentler adjustments instead:
- Start the day by cleaning out emails – just book your first meeting within an hour so it doesn’t go long
- Try an email cleaner like Unroll.me that will aggregate your junk mail
- Consider delegating – if you’re on email alerts, groups, etc. for leads or training, perhaps someone on your team could monitor these and bring hot topics to a team meeting
- Eat lunch at your desk once or twice a week and take the extra hour to respond during that time
- Find one email/day your can unsubscribe or junk
I cordially invite you to try several of these time-saving tips and join me in the sweet, sweet freedom of being released from email jail. Looking for more ways to get sales management tasks done in less time? This was one of over twenty hacks in our top-rated Sales Management Course “Own Your Day”, which is now available in our Sales Management 101 Boot Camp!
Want more time-saving tips?
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