A new day has begone. You turn on your laptop to get some serious work done. You quickly check out an email from a friend that just came in. You open it and the email contains a link to a Youtube video or website.
You click on it to see what all the fuzz is about. You watch the video, read the website and suddenly there’s another video or link that draws your attention. Now without realizing it, you are distracted, absorbed and lost, wandering from one video or website to the next.
30 minutes later you wake up from the world of info and entertainment and you think “Hey, what am I doing here and what was I doing in the first place?”.
You just lost precious time!
Email is a great convenient tool but also a curse if you don’t use it effectively and mindfully. There are a lot of emails that have low or no value at all and they keep coming back, pulling you away from what is most important to you.
What you want is an inbox that only contains the few crucial or meaningful emails that really matter. Emails that only take up a minimum amount of time, questions and demands that are processed quickly and easily taken care off. An inbox that leaves out the clutter, the ads, the horse shit and URLs that send you off to mars and beyond.
The payoff is a serene and peaceful empty inbox that brings a smile on your face.
Here are the keys:
1 – Read every email that comes into your inbox carefully and think hard about how you can reduce or eliminate future emails from that address or change the way of communication. Think outside of the box.
2 – Change or move specific email communication to different platforms (smartphone, talking in person, Facebook, Twitter or nothing at all).
3 – Learn people how to email you. Ask them to only email you what is important and leave out any unnecessary details, links or distractions. Tell them in a friendly way that you easily get distracted (like everyone else) and want to reply to their emails and help them as quickly as possible without getting sidetracked.
4 – Use filters to move emails to specific folders/labels.
I use a filter to send invoices from recurring payments to a specific folder/label. And if I can’t unsubscribe from an obnoxious email easily, I use a filter and forward the email to the trashcan.
5 – Don’t use your inbox as a todo-list, but use an online spreadsheet or Moleskine Notebook to create a separate todo-list.
6 – Unsubscribe from websites that you don’t find valuable.
8 – Outsource emails that are better off being processed by people who are more skillful than you and save you a lot of time.
9 – Make your inbox look minimalist. Remove all the backgrounds, clutter, ads and stuff around the inbox that gets in the way. Make it look serene. If you use Gmail and Google Chrome, download the Minimalist for Everything app.
10 – If the email requires you to take action, then deal with it right away. If the action takes up more time than available, then make a note of it on your to do list.
11 – Using filters is efficient, but only send particular emails to a new made folder/label if absolutely necessary. Be aware that you don’t end up with a dozen email folders/labels.
12 – Forward emails automatically (using filters) that are destined for other family members, collegues or friends.
13 – Create a folder/label and name it “inbox2”. Move emails to inbox2 when you can’t reply this minute. Think of emails that require info that isn’t at hand or need later action. Take care of it as soon as possible, reply and delete.
14 – Stay focused when reading and replying to emails. Keep your answers, short and concise. Help out but don’t get lost.
15 – Think hard, thoroughly and many times over if the very email that is in front of your eyes is of any value and contributes to your lovely life. If not, disqualify, remove, reduce, eliminate, clean up and let it vanish into thin air.
HOW TO REDUCE CHECKING EMAIL
Once you’ve applied all the precautions to insure you’ve downsized your email input, start cutting back on checking email to only once a day.
Check if there are still emails left to be taken care of, filtered, forwarded, reduced, or eliminated. Think hard about the tough emails that keep coming in and distract you from having a life. Once you’ve solved the few remaining issues, check email only twice a week (on Tuesdays and Fridays)
If everything goes smoothly, you’re ready for the final test. Check email once a week and get used to let go of your inbox. Let go of the urge, resist the temptation and the addiction of checking email. Reward yourself for letting go.
Now start enjoying your new found freedom and extra time. Have some fun, play with your children, go for a run, read a good book, hang out with friends, work out or play guitar.
Have a great week!