Insights
1 min Read
October 14, 2010

Conquering the Email Beast: Inbox control

I don’t know about you, but I’m stunned by how much email I get these days. Sure, social media is hard to make time for, but I find my collective personal and professional blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking still only amounts to a fraction of the time I spend emailing. So I decided a few weeks ago to ruthlessly deal with email differently in the hopes of wrangling this vicious time-sucking beast to the ground.

I don’t know about you, but I’m stunned by how much email I get these days. Sure, social media is hard to make time for, but I find my collective personal and professional blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking still only amounts to a fraction of the time I spend emailing. So I decided a few weeks ago to ruthlessly deal with email differently in the hopes of wrangling this vicious time-sucking beast to the ground.

First, I stopped the ‘autocheck’ feature in my email application. Instead of being distracted by the constant lure of new email in my inbox, I now manually get email, so it’s a deliberate act requiring premeditation. On top of that, I’m limiting how many times a day I read and respond to email instead of giving in to the urge to check it compulsively before, after and sometimes even during meetings or calls.

Curious how many hours a day you spend emailing? Just install the free version of Rescue Time on your Mac or PC and it’ll tell you. Prepare to be shocked. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that you spend twice as much time managing your email every day than you think you do.

I’ve long been a fan of maintaining a tidy inbox. Folks like Merlin Mann will also tell you in his Inbox Zero work how a cluttered inbox = a cluttered mind. But keeping my inbox empty or, at least, light, means triaging the content of emails into tasks, events and to dos (all managed with other software, of course). It also means ruthlessly filing with folders and sub-folders. I spend time doing this daily- another time-suck- but worth it to maintain sanity, I find.

I’ve also been on an unsubscribing rampage- more on that in another upcoming blog entry soon.

How do you keep email from clogging up your inbox and your brain? Do tell.

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