So, last week I woke up with a FULL day ahead of me with nothing scheduled for the first time in probably a month and a half. It was glorious. I dreamt of everything getting crossed off my to-do list, going to the gym, reading a chapter of Harry Potter (currently relovin’ on the series!) and relaxing at the end of the day.
But then I looked up and it was 10:24AM and nothing had gotten done yet. Where had the first 2.5 hours of the day gone?
I looked up again after lunch. 2:37PM. Literally the only thing that got crossed off my list was “Update email footer”. This was cause for concern in my world where I’m so focused on productivity. So I sat down to figure out the root of my problem and there was one major thing at fault.
I left my email open all day. I kept answering emails and getting responses back and then answering those and getting responses back. I had 19 emails in one conversation. 19!! WHAT?! This isn’t texting! And then on top of that, I got about 9 emails that required me to do something, which I added to my to-do list and since they were “quick things” I ended up doing all of those tasks all day rather than the big project I was trying to get done. After coming home from the gym feeling refreshed, I finally closed all my browsers, including my email, and started getting things done.
On a normal basis, I feel like I’m in control of my inbox but this time I didn’t take control like I should have, and if you’ve had this problem like me I want to let you in on a few ways to combat this issue.
SOLVING THE EMAIL PROBLEM
- Check it twice a day, or maybe even once a day, and NEVER the first thing in the morning. Set times midday and at the end of your “office hours” to check and respond. I prefer 11:30 and 4:30 giving myself a 30 minute time block before lunch and before my “end of day” to get through emails. Do I get through them all? No, not always. Do I respond at night sometimes? Yes, sometimes. But I try not to make myself available at all times. And by not checking them in the morning, you will be able to focus on your big projects before the dozens of email to-do’s pile onto your plate.
- Utilize the chrome plugin for Gmail, Inbox Pause to literally “pause” emails from coming in. If you want to be productive in the morning, at night, or during the afternoon, pause your inbox until you’re ready to check it again. And turn off notifications on your phone. Every time your phone lights up, you lose anywhere from 1-20 minutes of focus to get back on track. Just imagine how many notifications you get a day and then calculate how much time you might be losing from being distracted by incoming emails.
- Download the chrome plug-in Email Game! This plugin times you per email and counts down giving you a score based on how quickly you got through your inbox. It goes through them one by one and you can reply, archive, delete, etc all in the plugin. I love doing this when I’m trying to fly through my inbox! I typically reply in my email app though and not through the plugin.
- Use an app such as Zapier to add starred emails to your task management system. I star any emails that require a “to-do” and this automatically transfers them into Asana. I then Snooze or archive the email until completing the task, and then take it out of the archive to respond if necessary.
- Set up your Gmail to allow you to use Inbox. This will literally change your email life. The intuitive-ness is just incredible. It’s just a different way of viewing your Gmail and it allows you to mark things as “Done” “Snoozed”, set reminders and more. And it automatically “bundles” all similar emails such as Promos, Finances, Purchases, Travel, etc. so all your receipts go to one place, all your promo emails go to one place such as those million coupons, any travel itineraries go in one place and then all your REAL emails go into the inbox! I suggest checking it out and watching their video at the link above!
So, there you have it! 5 ways to start tackling your email better. I’ll be doing in-depth write ups on all the apps mentioned above in the coming months but definitely check them out – they’ve been game changers for the way I do email and I know they will be for you too!