Why do folks seem to have a hate relationship with email? Everyone is determined to find some sort of Holy-Grail-quick-and-easy-elusive secret to managing it. Articles, blogs, books, and live presentations rage about its inefficiency and its sinister intentions of blowing up your productivity for days on end. It keeps you from “turning off”, messes with your protected time, increases anxiety… and so I dive in today with my own take.
I happen to really like email. A lot. I check it in the morning (and also the afternoon), and I’ve never had anything close to Inbox Zero. It is one of a set of key communication tools I use, and I encourage my clients to make friends with it. You can call me old-school, but despite the rise of texting and messaging, I don’t believe email is going anywhere anytime soon. You may not use it as much for personal communication, but in the workplace, it’s still ubiquitous.
I’m glad that it is. Email is a perfect opportunity to think through what you want to communicate - rather than blurting it out in a live conversation. Used effectively, email is a way to expertly craft and organize thoughts, questions, and ideas in a way that allows the recipient of those thoughts, questions, and ideas to do the same. It’s also an excellent way to create a timeline of information. Some are even sentimental about old emails (check out this neat website I found: https://mobisocial.stanford.edu/muse/).
But still, I’m very aware that many of us have thousands of unread and archived messages, and that trying to read, respond, and manage them all can very easily spiral out of control. Aside from turning off those notifications (you all have your notifications turned off, right?), spending an hour or two a day processing it, or just ignoring it altogether (not recommended) what can you do about email clutter? Here’s what’s worked for me:
Sometimes people just want to be acknowledged.
For something a little outside the box, try improving your typing skills. Really. Watching some of my clients attempt to get around on their keyboards with the facility of a three-toed sloth makes me kind of sad, and it’s no wonder they hate email (and their computers, for that matter). For those of you who spurned high school typing class, check out: http://www.typingstudy.com/. Curious about your speed? Try www.typingtest.com.
These certainly aren’t the only possibilities for staying in a healthy relationship with your inbox, but they’re a decent start. What tips or tricks do you have for keeping email organized and happy?
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?