Time is everyone's most valuable resource. You can never get more time. Even the phrase "time management" does not make sense - you can't manage time, only the things you do that take up time. Email is essential to an online business - but it can also waste a lot of time. Check out these tips for gaining more time in your day and reducing the amount of email you receive.
The first step (and one of the most important) is to get rid of unneeded emails - even if you immediately delete them, it’s a waste of time. Plus, it’s very overwhelming to check your email in the morning and have 200 emails sitting there.
Start by getting rid of the junk. Gmail is one of the best for this - they have an amazing spam filter. You can't spend time reading email you never receive.
Next get rid of the chain emails. A lot of people have family and friends who think they need to share every cute picture of a kitten, joke, or Power Point show that they receive. Email them and politely tell them that, although you appreciate the thought, you’re trying to cut down on the number of emails you receive each day and you don’t want to receive any forwarded messages. This may hurt some people’s feelings, but it will pass. For those who ignore the request, create a filter that routes their emails directly to your trash folder. If you miss something truly important that they sent, you’ll hear from them another way to ask why you haven’t responded.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of the junk, it’s time to figure out a system to help you empty your in-box in as little time as possible.
Move quickly as you go through your email. Deal with one message at a time. Delete it, archive it (if you’ll need it later), add it to your list of things to do (and get rid of the actual email), take care of the task (only if it takes less than 2 minutes - and then get rid of the email), or forward the email to someone else to handle (and get rid of it). Don’t leave any emails sitting in your inbox. The more often you do this, the faster you’ll get. My mantra is "read it, delete it, delegate it, or deal with it." Don't just leave it sitting there for later. Later is the kiss of death when you are trying to manage your time.
Delete as much as you possibly can, and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s not necessary to reply to everything. If nothing too bad will happen, just delete it and don’t worry about it. This will help you narrow down what’s really important and get it taken care of as quickly as possible. And this will cut down on the compulsive email answerers - those who have to have the last word on everything. You know who they are, they respond to everything you send back. So, you need to be the break in the chain - don't respond to those people and you won't hear back from them about trivial stuff.
When you reply to emails, say as little as you can. Limit yourself to several sentences - this will force you to say only what’s necessary and save you a lot of time. Some people will take this as rudeness. I have a friend who always thinks I am mad because my emails are short, to the point, and business-like. I don't ramble on, use little smiley faces, or get sucked into drama. Say what you need to say and move on.
Go through all your emails at once. Don’t do a few and tell yourself you’ll finish later - more will just pile up.
If you get emails (such as newsletters) that you want to read, place them in a folder when you get them so you can easily read them later. (Later here is ok, since newsletters are not time sensitive and don't require a response.) Or, print them to read away from the computer later.
And finally, don’t check your email constantly - twice a day is plenty. Many people are compulsive email-checkers. Checking your inbox takes at least 20 seconds, even if nothing is there you have spent time doing it. If you are doing this all day long, you could be wasting up to 1 hour of valuable work time each day. (This includes checking email on your mobile device.) And over a month, you have wasted almost 2 whole work days just checking email.
Stay tuned for a special class coming up soon that addresses time management and making more time in your day for income producing tasks. Email is great, but it can also be a huge time waster. In my upcoming course, you will learn how to use technology without it running your life, how to identify what tasks take up the most of your time, how to leverage your time better for more productivity, how to plan backward to reach your goals, and many more strategies for increasing the amount of money you earn each day.