14 March 2019
The single biggest productivity killer in the modern working world is email and social media.
It is challenging enough managing the wave of emails that come in each day, add in multiple social networks and inboxes can quickly get out of control.
Whilst these platforms have facilitated global communication in an instant, they have also bred a generation of people who’d rather fire a message over to you instead of picking up the phone or coming over for a chat. What’s the end result? You ping messages back and forth for hours waiting for a response, when you could have solved the issue with a quick chat in person!
So how can you stop email and co taking over your working (and personal!) life?
Do you need to reply?
I receive thousands of emails and messages every single day. Whilst I have an assistant to help me to manage these communications, that doesn’t mean it’s not easy to fall into the trap of reading message after message.
A few years ago, I believed that you should reply to every email that you received. However, that quickly becomes a full-time job in itself! So, question whether you need to reply to the email. Is it something that needs a response, or is it something you can follow up with the sender later?
Along this vein, do you need to unsubscribe or delete the email? If so, do it straight away. Tackle the issue there and then to save your time further down the line.
Rather than leaving your email program or social media tabs open all day, the simplest way to take control of your inboxes is to schedule time in your day to check them. Perhaps once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening, or one an hour or two. Find what works for you and stick with it.
The people with whom you communicate will soon recognise these patterns and know to call you if the matter is urgent. You can even set an automatic reply to let people know when you’re likely to see their message.
Take it offline
I find that nine times out of 10 an email conversation could be facilitated much more quickly and easily in person or over the phone. So, before you click send on your reply, think about whether you could solve the issue more quickly offline.
Getting into this habit breaks the cycle of email conversations, or social media conversations, ultimately giving you more control over how you spend your time.
Don’t let it control you
It all comes back to controlling how you spend your time. Your time is the single most precious asset that you have. So why do we let our inboxes become to-do lists? I manage my email with my PA by prioritising the most urgent or important tasks that come through via email and tackling those first. We then work out where we can delegate or defer other tasks that come through.
How do you manage the influx of messages that you receive each day? Share your advice in the comments below.