E-mail overload ruining your working day? An amazingly simple inbox management system that gives you back control.
To be the best that you can be, your organisation systems need to be simple and highly efficient.
Dealing with your Inbox.
Your E-mail inbox can easily become unmanageable if you don’t have an efficient system for managing your incoming e-mail. Becoming “swamped” by e-mails can also affect your response times & pretty much everyone has had a major negative event as a result of e-mails being missed completely or not actioned fast enough due to the “deluge” of e-mail in your inbox.
We recommend a simple system which is highly efficient. It’s based on 3 options – Do, Delete or Defer:
- Do – if you can process the e-mail in less than 2 minutes do it straight away.
- Delete – if you can, delete it. Mark it as “Junk” if it’s rubbish so it won’t come into your inbox in future.
- Defer – if it’s going to take longer than 2 minutes to process, and you don’t want to delete it there are 2 options. Either leave it as read in your inbox to process in your Admin/Odd Jobs timeslots – or just “drag & drop” it into your calendar & set a reminder in your Admin/Odd Jobs timeslot. In our working week – friday mornings are designed for you to sort out longer “odd job” tasks so that’s a good use of your time.
Our advice is try and keep your inbox empty as much as you can – but at worst don’t have any e-mails in there for longer than 3 working days. If they are still there after 3 days – then they are definitely a “defer” e-mail – so drag & drop them into your calendar with a reminder of when to process the e-mail.
Try and clear your inbox when you finish your working week on a Friday or if you are going on holiday.
Outlook – Calendar:
Calendar is a very useful tool to allow you to manage and schedule lots of little tasks.
Calendar has a reminder system which will ping up a reminder at a time you choose. So – if you have 5 small tasks to complete today; 5 different reminders can help you to ensure that you will remember to complete all 5 tasks; and at a time that is best suited to your working day.
A typical situation we find is described below – with notes on how Calendar can support you to get it done:
- You need to speak to Dave Smith at ABC Ltd, so your reminder pops up at 08:55 and you ring Dave at 09:00 – but he’s in a meeting. We know there is no point leaving a message as most people won’t ring you back – so you can simply change the date on your reminder to 10:00 and get on with some other work.
- At 10:00 the reminder pops up – you ring Dave again – but he’s still in a meeting and the receptionist says he’s likely tied up until 12:45; so you change the reminder to 12:55 and get on with some other work.
- At 12:55 the reminder pops up – you ring Dave & get through to him and chat about business. He doesn’t have a need at the moment so you then schedule a reminder for 4 months time and get on with some other work.
- In 4 months time – your reminder pops up & you call Dave. He gives you some business – primarily because you are the only supplier of your particular product / service who regularly calls him up on a consistent basis. The reason for this? Because you’ve got your organisation system sorted.
Chasing leads down (sometimes over weeks or months) and making sure you are regularly keeping in contact with your main clients is the smart way to operate – and the calendar reminder system is the support system to help you achieve this.
E-mail is a really useful tool – but it can easily become a distraction. Very few people can resist that little envelope that appears in the corner of your screen so our advice is don’t let e-mail run your life.
Be in control of what you are doing & don’t just respond to events as they happen.
Disable the “envelope” icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Keep your e-mails off between 09:00 to 12:00 & 14:00 to 17:00; that way you’ve got 2x 3hr time windows in the day where you can “get your head down” and do some proper constructive work which is where you are most effective.