Never-ending inbox? How to manage email…so it stops managing you

It’s amazing how some things are just a universal truth, no matter if I’m working with an executive coaching client, a leadership coaching client or a career coaching client – everyone is inundated with email.  The irony is that very little of the email we get is very important.  And yet, many of us treat it as if it has upmost importance.

Why do we let email manage us?

Some of the answer is biological.  We get a little dopamine hit from responding to it.  “Look, see!  Another thing off my to do list!” You wouldn’t be the first human to confuse activity with output.  We all fall into this trap from time to time.

Sometimes our system settings are set up to conspire against us.  We forget to deactivate notifications, and that little ping and flash of the next message in our inbox is just too alluring to resist.  Remember, just because a notification is built into your computer system, doesn’t mean you have to use it.  These things are a form of digital crack that have been designed intentionally to hook us, don’t be fooled!

How to manage email – Turn off notifications!

When I teach effective planning, one of the first things I tell people to do is turn those darn things off.  The constant distraction has a huge impact on our ability to focus.  And according to mindfulness research, it can take 5-10 minutes to refocus on what you were doing before, after your attention gets hijacked.  That’s precious time that you don’t need stolen as you constantly are attempting to regroup after you’ve taken your focus off that important project or deliverable.

How to manage email – Set boundaries!

Easier said than done, right?  But this is critical to managing your inbox and managing expectations with your stakeholders.  Get into the habit of checking email once or twice a day and COMMUNICATE this to your key stakeholders.  If there is a real emergency – real meaning RARE – ask them to call, text or IM you.

It’s important to remember that most of the email you get is neither important to you and your priorities, it’s most likely important to someone else’s.  If you find that most of your day is caught up responding to email, chances are you’re unconsciously stealing time away from the things that really matter to you.  Remember this fantastic phrase that I have creatively edited of Stephen Covey – “If you know what is important to you, when you say no, you’re saying yes to something bigger!”

 

Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them.  Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!

 


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