Make email work for you

 

My "work" inbox, Friday just after lunch
My “work” inbox, Friday just after lunch

 

Things email is good for

 

  • sharing information with anyone – everyone has email
  • covering your backside
  • following up on conversations
  • clarification
  • commitment
  • moving documents from one location to another
  • passive aggressive communication
  • pretending you’ve done something
  • reaching people who don’t respond to other methods of communication
  • showing your boss you’ve done something
  • tracking communication
  • receiving information without requiring apps or special software

 

 

Things email is not good for

 

  • urgent communication
  • group conversations
  • to do lists
  • productivity
  • peace of mind
  • getting things done

 

 

Email (literally “electronic mail”) is brilliant. Many modern businesses could not function without it. The ability to reach pretty much anyone in the world, at any time, from almost any sort of device, is an astonishing technological feat and has made many things we take for granted possible.

 

Email is ubiquitous. It is difficult to find someone who has a connection to the internet who does not have an email address. Many people have at least 2; a “work” email and a “personal” email, although the lines are often blurred.

 

Sensationally, email can be free. Use any connected device, go to google or yahoo or Microsoft or thousands of other sites and sign up for free email, often with gigabytes of potential storage. Did anyone else have an @beer.com email address?

 

For many people email has become a burden. Overladen inboxes full of head office missives, group emails, multiple cc’s and email threads hundreds of messages long has created stress, caused people to lose focus on what is really important and sucks literally millions of hours a day from worldwide productivity.

 

Instead of email being a worthwhile business and lifestyle tool, it has become a task in itself. “Checking my email” is now a thing people do instead of other things. Checking email can happen at the dinner table, at the traffic lights and even when driving the car.

 

Email does not have to be a bad thing. Email does not have to run your life. It can be used for good and can work for you instead of you working for email.

 

We’re going to cover some key areas here. Implementing all will give you full control. Implementing some will be beneficial. Even for you to think differently about how and when you use email will help you.

 

Key areas of focus:

 

  • Check email when you want to, not when the machine tells you to
  • When should you send email?
  • When should you reply to email?
  • What emails should be replied to?
  • Folders and email filing.
  • Inbox rules.
  • Auto responders.
  • Training others to use email better.
  • Optional tools.

 

Before I move on. I know many who read this are thinking “but I’m different” and you’re right. Everyone’s unique but the problems we face are common. Not everything I talk about will work for you, but most of it will. Even if you only save 15 minutes a day, reduce your stress level by a little bit or just increase your clarity and focus, these are worthwhile achievements.

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