How To Handle The Email Flood

I recently commented on an article from Web Worker Daily about a Wall Street Journal article on email and the issues people have.

A growing number of employers, including U.S. Cellular, Deloitte & Touche and Intel, are imposing or trying out “no email” Fridays or weekends. While the bans typically allow emailing clients and customers or responding to urgent matters, the normal flow of routine internal email is halted. Violators are hit with token fines, or just called out by the boss.

The limits aim to encourage more face-to-face and phone contact with customers and co-workers, raise productivity or just give employees a reprieve from the ever-rising email tide. (read more)

Judi Sohn asks these questions at the end of the article:

If you were forced to avoid email on a specific day of the work week, could you do it? Would you find your time better spent, or would you just postpone matters until you could email again?

I decided I would put my information here for you to possible learn from, be inspired by, comment on, and enjoy.

If I were forced, could I give up one day of email a week? Sure I could.

Would I find my time better spent or postpone the matter? My time would be well spent during the “no email” day and I would postpone answering emails until the following day.

This is something I have wrestled with for several years. At times, I have tracked my “work time” over a two week period to see how my time was being spent. To my dismay, I found that over 50% of my time was responding to emails!

I needed to get a handle on it quick. So I adopted several ideas, that when I am disciplined to practice (key word – discipline) work very well:
- Create sub folders in Outlook labeled Hot, To Act On, and To Read (helps me quickly clean out my Inbox and prioritize)
- Have a set time, an hour, for email (right before lunch worked well and it is very focused time)
- Retrain my contacts (folks knew I would respond quickly so they sent me emails on the fly. I started to let them know I was going to specify a certain time each day for email and then my contacts started to police them selves about what they sent)
- Finally, (gasp!) I had my email disabled on my Blackberry — it was starting to feel like a leash.

Hope that helps. Being a creative makes staying organized a challenge for me, so I welcome any fresh ideas.

Other articles
- Tickler Files
- Open Thread: Staying Organized
- Networking For The Introvert
- Information Architecture #1

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One Response to How To Handle The Email Flood

  1. [...] These are great! They smacked me right between the eyes. I had written a while back on How To Handle the Email Flood and shared what worked for me. That was until now. Leo’s tips are immediately useful. Let me [...]

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