You know, everywhere you read about time management, the convention surrounding email is only check a few times a day and don’t live in there. Email checking kills your productivity and you’ll never get things done that way.
Well I disagree. We live in the e-world now and email is a big part of that. We do business through email so ignoring email is like ignoring the UPS guy when he knocks on your door and is holding a package full of valuable product or payment from clients or requests for new work. That’s just silly and I want to show you exactly how I do things by revolving my day around my email instead of fighting against habitually checking it.
Now I do agree that living in your email is not effective if your work is all elsewhere. Here’s how I do things:
How to live in your email and get more done
First, I use Gmail and if you don’t, well, get with it 😉 Gmail has such amazing email control. It’s built in search functionality is awesome so instead of deleting email and having to go dig around for it or worrying you may need it later, just archive it and search for it later. Then there are Gmail labels, which are much like folders, but the beauty in labels is you can have one email and have it be in multiple labels. You can’t do that easily with folders.
So after you’re set up in Gmail and comfortable, set up a calendar in Google Calendar.
Here comes the efficiency. Hang out in your email and when you get an email you need to act on (not reply to but something you have to do), give it a label, give it a time frame and set up a calendar event with a reminder. Set it up to repeat as often as you’d like, but don’t kid yourself and think you’ll have it done the very next instance. I always set my event reminders to repeat at least three times before the deadline.
And that’s about it!
By using Google Calendar as a to-do list and agenda, and by setting email reminders, every day your email will be filled with the things you have to do. When you complete a task, click on the “edit details” link in the event reminder in your inbox, and stop it from repeating. I don’t delete events because I like to look back and see what tasks I have completed so I just stop the future events from occurring and emailing me.
Why do I do things this way? Email is a disruption to your work flow, unless your work is part of your email habits. Instead of changing my habits on checking email, I just integrated my work habits into my email and now there are no distractions.
Do you fight against checking email or use it to your advantage? How?