4 February 2019

Lawrence Jones MBE taking time out to focus in Verbier. - managing emailsAnyone get the Monday morning dread? Open your inbox and it’s flooded with the emails you couldn’t get to before the end of last week, as well as all of the fresh messages that have arrived over the weekend?

We’ve all been there. I receive hundreds of emails every single day, many of them are promotional or marketing, but the majority are real people with real requests, issues or opportunities. How on earth can one person manage hundreds of opportunities or requests every single day? Yet, modern working practices seem to have trained us to respond immediately. If you don’t have a clear inbox, you’re failing, right? Wrong!

We urgently need to reassess our working relationship with emails and notifications. It is impossible to concentrate on a single task when you are constantly being bombarded with other messages and information.

Email is the single biggest killer of productivity. It is that simple.

So take control!

I have tried so many different techniques to tackle the influx of communications that inevitably arrive at every minute of the day; how to find the important messages that need urgent attention, how to prioritise the others.

Turn off notifications

The first step in taking back control has to be turning off notifications. Psychologists have actually researched the impact of constant email interruptions on workers and discovered email to be a ‘toxic source of stress’ that increases anxiety and worry.

So turn off those little pop ups and your push notifications. If you’re concerned about missing something important, perhaps let your colleagues know that if they need you urgently to call you or pop over to your desk rather than emailing.

Set a schedule

Once you have switched off your notifications, set a schedule for when you check your inbox. I run through my most important emails with my PA at the end of each day. This way, I know that I don’t have to worry about my inbox, because we are going to go through it at the end of the day, when my most important tasks are already complete.

Set a schedule for when you can check your messages. I have found that the people who usually email you soon learn your schedule and know that if they need something outside of these times they can reach you in other ways.

Encourage conversations

Texting, emailing and messaging is killing the art of conversation. We see so many young people joining the business who are reluctant to pick up the phone to make a call or go to see someone for a face-to-face conversation. Instead messaging is seen as easier. Why is that?

It’s time we took back the art of conversation and opted for a chat instead of pinging messages back and forth that interrupt someone’s day for longer. In having a chat, you’re able to come a resolution much faster, while building a better rapport with your colleague at the same time.

Find your own way

These tips work for me, but they may not work for you. Try a few different techniques and see what works for you. Maybe you have multiple times in the day to check your messages. There are also apps that give you a time limit as to how long you can spend checking your inbox or social media – give yourself a deadline perhaps.

Do any of these approaches work for you? Share your comments and tips in the comments below.

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