This next installment of the Crush Your Inbox! series brings you one step closer to turning your email account from a jumbled pile of everythings to a well-oiled machine. So far you’ve seen the first step of managing your email followed by a quick way to streamline similar responses. Today we’re going to take a look at triage, email style (or, the art of separating what you need to work on first).
The "November, 2006" Archives
I’ve decided to call this email management series “Crush Your Inbox!” since it fits the spirit of what I’m trying to teach you to accomplish. So let’s get crushing.
Rework is the opposite of leverage. And yet it likely domnates your email if you ever send out messages that are similar to each other. How many times have you had to give multiple people the same (or 90% similar) response? If you’re going to be savvy, the answer had better be “never again.” To beat your inbox into heady submission requires the generous use of templates. Write them once, save them, use them over and over again.
Templates are like the hired goons in the “Crush Your Inbox” universe. They don’t think for themselves, they’re easily replaceable, but they’re effective nonetheless at keeping you focused on creating new results rather than rehashing old ones.
Answer this question honestly: Does dealing with email free up time for you, reduce your stress levels, and help you get to your goals faster? Or does it eat up your time, pile on the overwhelm and slow down your progress?
For most people, it’s definitely the latter. How can you tell which camp you’re in? Well, if you’ve got a three- or four-digit backlog of messages in your Inbox, I think you pretty much know the answer. For the average person (and especially for entrepreneurs), email can quickly become a quagmire of unprocessed messages. And bloated inboxes full of things you keep “meaning to get to” do nothing to help you become more productive. Are you ready to crush that problem?
When people decide to “get better at time management,” one of the first things they do is buy themselves one or more expensive, high-tech items to make the job easier. Maybe it’s a Palm device or a Blackberry. Maybe it’s a smartphone or a swanky, leather-bound planner. Or maybe it’s some piece of incredible software that promised to manage it all for you.
It doesn’t matter what it is. What does matter is that a lot of these high-tech solutions aren’t going to work. Not because the solution itself doesn’t work, but because if you haven’t established the underlying habit you’ll need to make use of it, you’re hosed! And that habit, specifically, is the discipline of using that tool daily. You’ve probably experienced this already if you’ve got a time management tool you bought but never used. Or some books you’ve bought but never read. Or a gym membership you haven’t used.
For a lot of people, knowing what to do is the easy part – it’s the figuring out what to do first that’s the harder issue. When you’ve compiled a hefty list of actions you need to take to push forward all of your goals, it can often be a paralyzing event (as we discussed earlier).
So what do you do when you are faced with a big list of items, and you haven’t sorted out the priorities in a way that clearly lays out what you should work on? Or worse, what do you do when the list is intimidating you with so many “equally important / equally urgent” priorities, that you just don’t know what to work on first? The answer is simple …
Why does goal-setting often paralyze smart people from taking action?
It’s one of the cruel paradoxes of time management: The act of setting “big picture” goals that are clear and specific should help you focus on what matters most, but in reality it often leaves people paralyzed when it comes to taking massive action towards their goals. In fact, the clearer some people get on their values and priorities, the more paralyzed they can become. So why does this happen?
Do you know what it means to get serious about managing your time? I ask this because one of the most challenging stumbling blocks I see people having with time management is simply that they don’t decide up front that they are going to handle the creation of a personal time management system as a serious project. They try to make it an “add-on” or something they work on “when they get a chance.”
Unfortunately, building a skill doesn’t work that way. While it’s true that there are a number of easy things you can do to get an immediate edge over your busy workload, these things still have to be applied consistently and with focus. They can’t merely be something that’s “nice to do” – instead, they have to be something you will do.