Do you stress over how to manage your emails?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets way too many emails in the course of a day. Hour. Minute. All of which seem to want something from me.
I feel I only read/act on 1 out of every 10 and continuously am checking my phone/laptop to see if anything new came in. I don’t feel I can ever unplug because the consequences of what I would be walking back into would drive me over the edge.
I often think of a world where email didn’t overtake my life and I had some sort of management system in place to deal with it.
However, it seems like a utopia. A land of unicorns and rainbows. Meaning I’m sure it doesn’t exist but it’s sure nice to think about.
Then I think about the millions of other people out there who seem to be able to manage their email and maybe it’s something I should be able to do too. As I was pondering this dilemma this weekend I remembered a book I got a long time ago called Getting Things Done by David Allen.
I, of course, hadn’t read it because at the time I received the book I didn’t have time to sit down and read about how I needed to get organized. Which we all know is a bad excuse. You sometimes need to stop and take a step back so you can see all you need to do and come up with a plan.
So I decided to do just that. I took some time to actually read the book and then checked out his website where he had a page called the 5 simple steps to apply order to chaos.
And chaos is exactly how I feel about my inbox and my to-do list.
The 5 steps aren’t revolutionary. They’re practical and make total sense.
- Capture – to me that means write that shit down. It’s too easy to try and keep it in my head or even worse I don’t write it down because I’m afraid of how scary it will look. But keeping it in my head just stresses me out and of course, I’m going to forget something.
- Clarify – be specific. I can put on my to-do list eat healthy but what does that actually mean. I need to break it down into what are actionable steps.
- Organize – create a system. How many of you are like me and just leave emails languishing in your inbox until ‘you get to them.’ Well then those to do’s get so buried I forget they are even there and the ball gets dropped, and I get overwhelmed…etc. Having a system where the tasks are either done, delegated or filed for later will help keep that inbox clean. One of the pieces of advice was if a task only took 2 minutes or so then do it immediately and get it off your plate. I am guilty as charged for not doing that one. I put a lot off because I don’t think I have time and then that 2 minute’s task turns into 2 weeks of thinking about it or forgetting which makes it even worse.
- Reflect – and review your to-do list daily/weekly/monthly. It’s not like you make one to do list and you’re done. It’s a never-ending process. I used to try and make time Sunday evenings to look at my week and get things together. I need to get back on that habit.
- Engage – in the words of Nike. Just Do It. I admit I sometimes stress more over the anticipation of having to do something than the actual act of doing it. I need to do the stuff I don’t want to do and stop procrastinating and getting even more backed up.
I spent time this week deleting old emails and organizing the ones I have AND completing many 2-minute tasks which gave me a HUGE sense of relief.
Now I do say when I wake up in the morning and see how many things have come through in the night it’s very hard to not fall back into my old ways, but I know how easy it can spiral out of control and will then take me that much longer to clean up again.
Wish me luck that I can stick to it!
What are your email organization tricks?
Download The Top 4 Things You Need to Know to Make a Living as an Author