Do you ever get to the end of a day with only half your to-do list ticked off and wonder where on earth your time went?
Surely there is some little leprechaun hiding somewhere stealing your time!
Well, chances are, there is no leprechaun.
In reality, you probably spent far too many of your precious work hours checking emails.
Don’t believe us?
Well, according to research, professionals spend about 28% of their workday on emails, and check them 15 times a day, on average!
If you find yourself distracted by email notifications or constantly avoiding the difficult jobs by jumping into your inbox, it could be time to boost your productivity by changing the way you approach email.
Here’s why you should only clear your emails twice a day…
Batching Work Increases Focus
Once considered to be the key to efficiency, multi-tasking has actually been revealed as detrimental to productivity. It seems our brains work better when we focus exclusively on one task at a time.
Have you ever noticed how effortless work can be when your mind is “in the zone”?
This state of flow is easily broken when we switch to another task, even if only for a few minutes. In fact, research shows that it takes around 23 minutes to properly refocus our attention after an interruption.
Batching tasks helps you get through them more quickly than trying to multi-task, so allot yourself two specific slots per day to deal with emails. This will prevent them from interrupting your workflow at other times.
Enhance Your Communication Skills
While email can be a great tool for some tasks, it’s not always the most effective method of communication. Restricting your use of it gives you a chance to review the way you use it. Does the message have to be via email? Would it be quicker to make a phone call, send a text, or pop across the office to talk to someone face to face?
If you are worried about missing important messages, simply add an automatic pop-up letting people know you are available by phone, text or Instant Message for anything urgent.
Stop Doubling Up On Your Work
As part of your new and improved email strategy, you should look at how you manage your emails. If you are checking them often throughout the day, chances are you are leaving them in your inbox to come back to later. This means you will probably re-read every one when you eventually come back to them.
Instead, during your two allotted email times, you should follow the one-touch rule. Delete (or file) read emails that need no further action, archive those that have information that could be useful later, and move any emails requiring action onto your to-do list (and delete or archive them). The minutes you save by following this process will add up!
While you are at it, unsubscribe from all the lists that aren’t useful, block spam, and use automatic rules and filters to streamline incoming messages.
Break The Email Addiction
The frequent urge to check your emails isn’t necessarily a sign of diligence. It may actually be an addiction! Every time we get an email, our brain releases a little burst of dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel good (the same goes for social media likes and notifications).
The reward cycle associated with getting emails can be a hard one to break. But once you have weaned off it, you are likely to see that your newfound ability to tick more jobs off your to-do list is equally rewarding.
Start And End Your Day On The Right Foot
If you are checking emails every half hour, chances are you never really feel like you are done with them. In contrast, putting aside 30 minutes at the start and end of your workday gives you the satisfaction of finishing a task and setting it aside.
Dealing with everything in the morning helps you plan your day, delegate where necessary, and prioritise your to-do list. And a check before you head home allows you to deal with anything that cropped up during the day, plan for tomorrow, and exit your workspace knowing that there is nothing worrisome lurking in your inbox.
Maintain Work/Life Balance
You may think you are being super professional and impressive by responding to all your emails within 30 minutes. In actual fact, you are setting up expectations for other people that you are always available and on-call.
If you send an email to a company, do you really expect an email back immediately? Probably not. Most people are happy with a reply that day, or even the following day, depending on the message.
The world won’t end if someone didn’t get a reply from you within a few hours – and if it does, then they probably should have picked up the phone and called you instead!
Clearing your inbox twice a day helps you prioritise your work, and reduces the urge to keep on checking once you are clocked out. Get out of the habit of opening your email just before sleep and as soon as you wake up – your work/life balance is more important!
Are you down to checking your emails only two times a day, but still feel inundated?
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the flood of emails heading your way every day, you might benefit from hiring a virtual assistant. A VA can help enormously in dealing with emails by screening them first and only forwarding you the most important ones.
They can answer the simple queries or direct people to booking a time in your calendar if they need to discuss things further. This frees up your time and brain space to focus on the important things.
Here at Admin Army, we wage war on people’s inboxes every day. And we always win!
Get in touch with us today to create in your business and relieve your stress levels.