Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Have you given too much power to your email?

How many times has your telephone rung while you were having dinner with your family? Some people answer it, some don’t. Some give the control of the moment to the ringing telephone, others take control and choose to let it ring, recognizing that the priority at that moment is the time spent with family. Which better describes you?

Just as some people feel compelled to answer the phone whenever it rings, others believe it is essential to respond to emails immediately upon receipt. Given all of the email you receive daily, perhaps it is difficult to tear your eyes away from the inbox, even when you’re supposed to be working on other matters. This reactive approach is not only unnecessary, but it is a description of a classic inefficient practice.

You can operate under the same principle when it comes to your inbox. Don’t allow yourself to be inconveniently sucked into time-wasting messages and exchanges that are not advancing a specific objective. Control the number of times you open your email during your workday. Make overt decisions regarding your responses and manage the tasks that come your way just like you would with any other work assignment. Analyze your priorities and choose to be or not to be interrupted.

Become proactive rather than reactive. Own your email, rather than allowing it exercise power over you. That means you decide:
· when you will check for new messages and when you will respond
· when and how email will fit into your daily plan
· when you will shut down your Blackberry or PDA
· what you will work on and when
· what sounds and reminders you will use or not use
Let go of a compulsion to respond to emails regardless of their importance. Let go of your assumptions that e-mails need to be responded to immediately. Let go of your checking your computer screen every 10 minutes for newfound treasure.

Decide who owns your email! Decide that it is you!

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